FNS: Ben Nelson Doesn't Think Gitmo Prisoners Should Come To The US

[media id=8405] (h/t Heather) Will Rogers famously said that he wasn't a part of an organized group, he was a Democrat. Sadly, when it comes to Sen.

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(h/t Heather)

Will Rogers famously said that he wasn't a part of an organized group, he was a Democrat. Sadly, when it comes to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), that's even more true. I understand that Nelson is a conservative Democrat and comes from a historically conservative state, but there's no excuse for his abject stupidity in discussing Guantanamo and how to deal with the detainees there.

What's so odd about Nelson's NIMBY attitude is that he himself points out the flaws in his logic: we have and are successfully housing some really dangerous men (including both foreign and domestic terrorists, like Moussaoui and Eric Rudolph) in prisons on American soil without incident. Nelson just doesn't want them here.

Well, Sen. Nelson, I'd prefer that we have a country that wasn't full of criminals and people who wish us harm too. But unfortunately, that isn't reality. I live within 30 miles of San Quentin prison and Bay Area residents (for as liberal and hippy as our reputation is) do not seem to be all that concerned about our collective safety. The fear that these people will be on American soil so that we deal with them as befitting our justice system forgets that they will also be under heavy lock and guard as well.

And then in another annoyingly wrong nod to bipartisanship, Nelson lends credit to the Republican meme of Jack Bauer/the-ends-justify-the-means issue of keeping American safe is somehow the moral equivalent of respecting the rule of law:

WALLACE: Senator Nelson, who’s right about the balance between, on the one hand, keeping the country safe and, on the other hand, living up to our values?

NELSON: Well, they probably both are in some -- to one degree or another. I don’t think anybody wants to see this country attacked again. And I think it’s also a question about whether or not it is held against us because these tactics have been used.

But look, the president, when he was running, said that we’re going to stop waterboarding. John McCain has said it’s torture. I think what we have to do is understand that this decision apparently was decided last -- last November.

But what we need to do is make sure that the intelligence information that’s gathered is accurate, that we do everything within our power to get good intelligence, and it may or may not consist of coming from enhanced techniques.

Oh holy FSM. I'm so tired of this dishonesty. NOTHING of value came from torture, and to suggest that it might is accepting the Republican framing of this issue. Nelson should be ashamed of his ignorance. If we had to torture three people over 30 days more than 200 times looking for some way to connect Iraq to 9/11 (unsuccessfully, too), then how can anyone with the least bit of common sense much less intelligence think that it kept us safe? Does Nelson actually think that the 108 detainees killed via "enhanced interrogation techniques" have actually deterred terrorism?

Think about it, Sen. Nelson, before you spout off on television again, hurting your party and the President's stance: If your son, brother, cousin or friend (even if he had jihadist tendencies--something we have not yet proven) was killed in the name of the American "War on Terror", would you be inclined to be sympathetic to the American cause, or would you too seek revenge for the US's dehumanizing treatment?

WALLACE: Senator Nelson, congressional Democrats, I think it’s fair to say, jumped ship on the administration this week on the idea of closing Guantanamo. What do you need to see from the administration in the way of a plan before you can get behind this?

NELSON: Well, the president needs to come forward with a complete plan, a comprehensive plan. I think there are differences between those terrorists that have committed crimes in America against American law, such as Moussaoui -- they’re already in prisons here, Supermax prisons -- 30-some out in Colorado.

So consequently, I think what has to be done is a distinction made between those criminals and those who are -- who have yet to be tried by tribunals. I think the tribunals can occur anywhere, and I’d prefer not to see them occur in America, on -- in the -- within the continental United States.

Once they’re convicted, and assuming they will be, then I think we need to work out with their countries an arrangement where they’re incarcerated there. Those countries have a responsibility, too. They are, after all, their citizens, their residents, and they need to -- they need to step to the forefront on it as well.

WALLACE: I’m a little confused by your answer, though, Senator Nelson. Are you saying if someone is convicted -- now, I understand the administration is trying to get other countries to take some of these detainees. But -- and so far, the Obama administration has had the good fortune of getting only two picked up, one by Britain and one by France.

Are you saying that you would be willing to accept convicted terrorists in the United States, even perhaps in Nebraska?

NELSON: Well, no. Look, and federal prisons -- we don’t have any in Nebraska, so it’s not about “not in my backyard.” This is a situation where we have Moussaoui here. We have the blind cleric from the first bombing of the twin trade towers. We have them here. I’m just saying if they committed violations of American law, that’s one thing. They can be tried here, and it might be even hard to argue that they shouldn’t be kept here.

But on those that are detainees that have violated the laws of war, we don’t have to worry about bringing them here. I think they need to be kept elsewhere, wherever that is. I don’t think -- I don’t want to see them come on American soil.

[snip]

WALLACE: Senator Nelson, who’s right about the balance between, on the one hand, keeping the country safe and, on the other hand, living up to our values?

NELSON: Well, they probably both are in some -- to one degree or another. I don’t think anybody wants to see this country attacked again. And I think it’s also a question about whether or not it is held against us because these tactics have been used.

But look, the president, when he was running, said that we’re going to stop waterboarding. John McCain has said it’s torture. I think what we have to do is understand that this decision apparently was decided last -- last November.

But what we need to do is make sure that the intelligence information that’s gathered is accurate, that we do everything within our power to get good intelligence, and it may or may not consist of coming from enhanced techniques.

But you know, right now you’ve got questions about whether or not you’re getting accurate information from the CIA. Former Speaker Gingrich said back in ‘07 that the National Intelligence -- the NIE was (inaudible), not -- not workable, was not good, it was full of misinformation. And then you had Peter Hoekstra , Representative Hoekstra, saying he got lied to.

I think we need to get our intelligence at the best level that we can and stop the focus quite so much on enhanced techniques.

About Nicole Belle

Nicole Belle's picture
Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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