Senate Dems Capitulate To GOP Talking Points On Gitmo: It's A Swell Place, And We Don't Want Terrorists In Our Neighborhoods
Republicans have been all over the teevee telling us what a swell place that Guantanamo Bay can be. Club Gitmo! And if we close it down, we'll be getting terrorists in our neighborhoods!
So of course, Senate Democrats quickly caved on funding the prison's closure:
WASHINGTON - In a major rebuke to President Barack Obama, the Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to block the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States and denied the administration the millions it sought to close the prison.
The 90-6 Senate vote — paired with similar House action last week — was a clear sign to Obama that he faces a tough fight getting the Democratic-controlled Congress to agree with his plans to shut down the detention center and move the 240 detainees.
But listen to the Republican arguments and you just have to scratch your head.
There was John Ensign saying the health care was better than most Americans get. Then Sen. James Ihofe of Oklahoma went on Fox yesterday with Neil Cavuto and declared that "there's no place like it, the treatment is good."
But Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby really took the cake this morning on with Joe Scarborough on MSNBC:
Shelby: The Democrats saw the vote coming, should have, and saw that nobody in America wants a terrorist in their neighborhood. That's the bottom line.
Scarborough: Well, the Democrats were so sure six months ago they were going to shut down Gitmo. What happened?
Shelby: Well, they might shut it down. But I don't know why they would want to shut it down and bring terrorists into the United States of America, even into some of our neighborhoods, if they deem them not to be terrorists anymore. That's a dangerous road to go down, Joe.
Evidently, Shelby doesn't believe that when it turns out that some of these suspects are innocent that we should permit them to go free.
And, as Glenn Greenwald says,: "Is there anything the right wing isn't afraid of these days?" (His column on this is a must-read, as always.)
Moreover, Republicans (including Cavuto) are claiming that no one in the USA wants the prisoners. But that's not true. Already, folks in Hardin, Montana, are lining up:
Economic development officials in Hardin are looking at the soon-to-close detention facility in Guantanamo Bay as a possible fix for the jail sitting empty in Hardin.
President Barack Obama signed an executive order Jan. 22 to close the Guantanamo detention facilities in Cuba where hundreds of enemy combatants have been held since 2002. The closure is to occur in a year, during which time remaining detainees must be returned to their home countries or detained elsewhere.
Meanwhile, a 460-bed detention facility sits empty in Hardin. Built by Two Rivers Authority, the city's economic development arm, the facility was meant to bring economic development to Hardin by creating more than 100 high-paying jobs.
While leaders continue to look for contracts to open the jail, which was completed in 2007, people in Hardin have approached Two Rivers executive director Greg Smith saying they have the answer: Get the contract to hold those prisoners from Guantanamo.
Even more to the point, the U.S. prison system is more than capable of holding these people securely. After all, we currently hold some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world in our prisons, and we do it very well.
Exhibit A: Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the first World Trade Center bombing -- along with an early assassination attempt against Benazir Bhutto, and the bombing of an Iranian shrine. He also was the mastermind of the disrupted "Bojinka Plot," which planned the simultaneous destruction of 11 airliners over the Pacific. And yes, he's the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.
He is held at the high-security Supermax prison ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado. ... According to interviews from staff at ADX Florence, upon Yousef's arrival at the facility he prayed almost every hour and refused to leave his cell for recreation as he did not wish to undergo the strip search required at the ultra-high security prison. Now Yousef regularly enjoys recreation time from his 12x7 cell despite the strip search.
Are Republicans trying to say that we can't keep convicted or suspected terrorists secure in our prisons? Isn't that an insult to hard-working Americans?