Six years after the newly inaugurated President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba by the end of 2009, “Gitmo” remains open and home to 122 detainees, which apparently weighs heavily on the president as he moves into the final chapters of his presidency.

When asked by a seven-year-old at a recent town hall meeting in Cleveland what advice he would give himself on the first day of his presidency, President Obama didn’t hesitate, but immediately responded, “I would’ve closed Guantanamo on the first day.”

In fact, the president attempted to do so with his first executive order on January 22, 2009, only his third day in the White House, directing that the facility be closed by the end of the year.

At the time, the president claimed the action was to return America to the “moral high ground,” but in fact it set the tone for Obama’s presidency demonstrating a clean break from his predecessor’s policies.

President Obama took the oath of office at a critical point in time –long-term wars, the collapse of the housing market and economic instability were uppermost in the minds of most Americans.

Given the very real challenges facing any first term president, let alone the significant issues he faced on that January day, turning his attention to closing a military prison and relocating 242 detainees would arguably have been something that could have waited.

If it is true that hindsight is 20/20, it might be good to ask why, after six years of presiding over continuing anemic economic recovery, record unemployment, worsening racial relations, loss of the respect of our enemies and distance from our allies, the rise of ISIS and explosive violence in the Middle East, domestic suspicion and scandal, the president names the failure to close Gitmo as his biggest regret.

A cursory review of the record would provide many examples where the president might wish to have the opportunity to tack a different course of action, to forge an alliance, to refrain from premature comment and most importantly, to listen to the American people.

Certainly the debacle of the Obamacare rollout, the failure of the Fast and Furious scheme, the non-response to the IRS scandal, and the government’s investment in companies like Solyndra offer opportunities for the president to reflect on what might have been had other decisions been made.

It would seem natural for the president to think back to the night of September 11, 2012 to ask himself how the attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi might have been avoided, along with the loss of four Americans.

He might have reviewed with some regret his hastily issued divisive comments that sparked racial unrest.

The president need not look farther than 11 months ago when he made the decision to ransom a known Army deserter with five of the most dangerous Taliban chieftains, who are ready to return to the field to wage war against the U.S.


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