Dems Unlikely to Get Guantanamo Closed

Just a few months ago, Gitmo seemed headed for closure, thanks to a bill introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin and another by Sen. Diane Feinstein.

Now, the passage of either bill is in serious doubt. Harkin's bill failed to generate co-sponsors.

The detention facility has been embraced by many Republicans as a potent political symbol in their quest to seize the terrorism issue ahead of next year's elections. GOP presidential candidates have jockeyed to demonstrate their support for the prison. One candidate has called for doubling its use. Another praised the menu and health plan offered to detainees.

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who supports closure, says:

"It's a Republican litmus test this year...The Republican Party has won two elections on the issue of fear and terrorism," Hagel said. "[It's] going to try again."

Harkin and Feinstein aren't giving up:

bq..Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) still hope to attach a measure to the 2008 defense policy bill that would compel the administration to develop a plan for relocating the roughly 340 detainees at Guantanamo.

The measure would force the facility to be closed within a year and would prohibit the transfer of detainees to detention centers outside the United States.

Harkin's right -- "This should have been a slam-dunk."

Here's Republican candidate Mitt Romney:

At the GOP presidential debate in South Carolina in May, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called for doubling the size of Guantanamo and continuing the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on detainees.

"I want them in Guantanamo, where they don't get the access to lawyers they get when they're on our soil," Romney said.

Here's Rudy weighing in:

In September, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani won applause at a GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire when he derided calls to close Guantanamo. He compared those urging such a move to judges who "would release criminals into the street."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

In July, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced a nonbinding measure expressing opposition to releasing Guantanamo detainees "into American society" or transferring them "into facilities in American communities and neighborhoods."

McConnell said on the floor of the Senate: "Six years ago, no one would have thought about deliberately bringing terrorists into American communities, but some of our friends on the other side of the aisle feel differently." He warned that under the Feinstein-Harkin proposal, detainees would be moved "into facilities in cities and small towns in places such as California and Illinois and Kentucky."

McConnell's measure passed 94-3.

How many of those at Gitmo are terrorists? How many simply were at the wrong place at the wrong time when they were apprehended or sold to the Taliban for turnover to the U.S.?

The lack of criminal charges against most of them belies any conclusion they are terrorists. Maybe the Republicans are afraid five years of confinement and mistreatment could turn a perfectly normal person into a U.S. hater and potential terrorist. In that case, do you reap what you sow?

Guantanamo is a national embarassment. For further reading, here's a U.N. report from 2006 (pdf).
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    Feinstein the war profiteer (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Dadler on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 01:55:02 PM EST
    Funny, how this is important to her, but ending the war is not.  Oh, that's right, she has made millions of dollars from this war.

    She's a decorum queen (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by janinsanfran on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 10:57:58 PM EST
    Gitmo was not done in an orderly way -- she loathes it. If the US were holding formal legal proceedings preparatory to publicly drawing and quartering defendants, she wouldn't be bothered. So long as a mannerly process is maintained, it's fine by DiFi. Her first principle is order.

    Knock me over with a feather... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Jeff in Texas on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 03:17:37 PM EST
    Dems unlikely to get Guantanamo closed?  The heck you say!

    Is closing down Gitmo one of those things that Congressional Democrats really need to get done, so they don't want to "waste time" with impeachment, contempt charges, or forcing the Republicans to filibuster?  As with so many other things that they need to get done, how is that working out for them exactly?  Thank goodness they are not wasting all their time though.  They probably have another White House-authored FISA amendment that will need passing any day now.

    There are criminals at Gitmo? (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by kovie on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 03:22:46 PM EST
    That's news to me, since none of them have been formally charged with or tried for crimes. Are Rudy & the rest of the moral dwarves now contending that calling someone a criminal is legally equivalent to their being a criminal? What a novel legal concept--why didn't the founders think of that?!? Was that in Article VIII?

    Profiles In Cowardice (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by john horse on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 10:31:56 PM EST
    Once again we have another chapter in Profiles in Cowardice.
    There is George Bush and Condi Rice saying they would really like to close Guantanamo but in practice they will veto any attempt to do so.
    According to Senator Hagel what is keeping us from closing Guantanamo is politics, specifically Republicans need to keep fear alive.  They need for us to be afraid, very afraid, of the "terrorists", in order to get reelected.  This is more important than standing up for the Constitution and standing up against torture.  They need us to be afraid because when you are afraid you don't evaluate things rationally.  

    And maybe we should be afraid.  Not of the terrorists but of these Republicans who would sell out our values in a heartbeat for political gain.

    The irony is that keeping Guantanamo open provides terrorist groups like Al Queda valuable propaganda by making us out to be hypocrites when we talk about human rights and freedoms.  

    increase in insurgents (1.00 / 1) (#8)
    by diogenes on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 11:09:19 PM EST
    Actually, the increase in insurgents is in various sectarian groups.  They are preparing for civil war/anarchy.  When we leave, they'll go at each other, not send thousands into the US to set up lots of suicide bombings.  Heck, even as it is they kill fellow Islamic Iraqis rather than Americans with their suicide bombs.

    Reap what you sow... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Edger on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 01:00:44 PM EST
    Maybe the Republicans are afraid five years of confinement and mistreatment could turn a perfectly normal person into a U.S. hater and potential terrorist. In that case, do you reap what you sow?

    Very close to the likely reasons Republicans are so dead set to leave Iraq:

    ...if we are going to claim to be serious about fighting terrorism, we need to focus our efforts on the factors that actually motivate people to become terrorists, not the factors we continue to insist motivate them. Killing or incarcerating a terrorist or insurgent may take one of them out of circulation, but if you create two new ones for every one you destroy, you are going backward, not forward.

    I saw this dynamic when I was an interrogator in Iraq. Coalition forces would arrest an insurgent, humiliate him in front of his family, keep him in prison for months, and then release him without charges. In the meantime he learned to hate us (even if he hadn't before) and, more importantly, his family learned to hate us. While he was learning to hate us, he was in a population that was uniquely qualified to fan the flames of his hatred and teach him how he might better act on it. Meanwhile his family and close friends were now easy targets for recruitment. In getting rid of one "terrorist," we created several. Is it any wonder that the estimated number of insurgents in Iraq jumped from 5,000 (total) in 2003 to 70,000 (Sunni) in 2007, while the prison population skyrocketed from 10,000 to 60,000?

    "dead set to ::not:: leave Iraq" (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 02:48:01 PM EST