Seventeen down, 221 to go. That may be the cheer at the White House today, in the wake of what federal officials were describing as progress in closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
It was revealed Wednesday that the tiny Pacific Ocean nation of Palau has agreed to accept 17 Chinese Muslim detainees from Guantanamo Bay. U.S. officials have had trouble finding countries willing to accept the detainees, for obvious reasons. Sending the 17 Chinese back to their home country wasn't an option, because of well-founded fears that the regime there might torture or execute them.
Palau's President Johnson Toribiong said the decision to accept the detainees was "a humanitarian gesture." But it was revealed that in exchange for taking the terrorist suspects, Palau will receive about $200 million in U.S. aid.
At that rate - about $11.7 million per detainee - we're not certain the United States can afford to find new homes for the remaining 221 detainees.
We have made this point before, but we will restate it: The reluctance of so many countries to accept detainees from Guantanamo Bay is instructive.
It tells Americans that leaders of most other nations believe the detainees are dangerous. Dumping them on tiny nations such as Palau (population 20,000) may be a recipe for funneling scores of terrorists back to the deadly organizations to which they swear allegiance.