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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