Irrational Fear Behind Guantanamo Detainee Decision

The manner in which grown men and women in the United States Congress are fretting over the possibility that some of the Guantanamo detainees may wind up being incarcerated in federal civilian and military prisons on the mainland, illustrates yet again how tight a grip FEAR has on public policy in post-911 America.

Earlier this week, the Senate blocked President Barack Obama’s request for $80 billion to begin the process of closing down the detention facility at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba. Six Senate Democrats voted against the president, even though those same Democrats earlier had called on Obama to close the facility. The only reason for this bizarre behavior by members of the president’s own party (and many Republicans) was the fear that some of the 100 or so detainess the Secretary of Defense said would have to still be incarcerated in facilities elsewhere would in fact . . . be incarcerated elsewhere. This lack of faith in the ability of the Bureaus of Prisons (which manages some of the most secure prison facilities in the world) and of our armed services (which maintain extremely secure military prisons as well), to safely house a small number of foreign detainees, is startling — and based on nothing other than irrational fear.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered the silliest rationale of all in defending the Senate’s about face. Reid explained that, “you can’t put them in prison unless you release them” and “we will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.” Say what? Simply transferring a prisoner from one facility (such as Guantanamo) to another (such as the “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado), is hardly “releasing” them. Every day, federal prisoners routinely are transferred from one facility to another, and no one (except Sen. Reid) considers such actions to consititute “releasing” those people.

The fact is, while the detention facility at Guantanamo offers the benefit of being located on an island off the U.S. mainland and is isolated on that island, the facility itself is no more secure than any number of other federal prisons; and is in fact not nearly as secure as many Bureau of Prison facilities, including the Supermax prison in Colorado, which already houses several convicted terrorists.

The president has made a policy decision to close the detention facility at Guantanamo. Members of Congress ought to have the backbone to vote for or against the president’s plan based on its merits, not hide behind irrational fear that somehow a super-human terrorist will be able to scale the walls of the Supermax prison and wreak havoc on a community in their district.

70 comments Add your comment

Michael H. Smith

May 22nd, 2009
11:55 pm

Enter your comments here

Michael H. Smith

May 23rd, 2009
12:18 am

This blog is another fraudulent rigged deal. The AJC wonders why they have been labeled as basis and leftists? You are only going to lose a great many more readers AJC. Better hope Obama gives you a taxpayer bailout.

GodHatesTrash, Superstar

May 23rd, 2009
9:07 am

Since 9/11, neo-cons have lived in constant, undying fear. I’m sure many of them cry themselves to sleep at night, hiding under their beds, fondling their handguns.

It’s OK, boys and girls.

You can come out now. I know little Bushie wanted you to grovel and shake in fear every time you heard the words “nine eleven”, but Mr. Obama is a grown man and he says “Grow up, children.”

So dry your tears, put on your big boy/big girl pants, and come out from under that bed, young man/lady!


May 23rd, 2009
9:20 am

Re:GodHatesTrash, Superstar

That is one of the stupidest post I have ever read.


May 23rd, 2009
10:13 am

God Hates Trash:
On 9/11, my younger brother was in WTC Tower 2 when it was attacked. We had not heard from him and by that afternoon, he was presumed dead. He did surface at about 3pm that day. The traders at Cantor Fitzgerald and Eurobrokers that I used to do business with were not so lucky. I do live in fear.
These “detainees” at Gitmo were for the most part captured on the batllefield trying to kill U.S. servicemen. What do you not understand? They are enemy combatants. They are not entiltled to U.S. habeus corpus. If it were up to me, Gitmo would already be empty. These war criminals would have been executed long ago. End of story.

Michael H. Smith

May 23rd, 2009
10:59 am

What is the AJC’s IRRATIONAL FEAR of allowing my reply to post a comment directed at my first statement?

Is it the revelation of a leading liberal Democrat Senator’s blatant HYPOCRISY now seen by the world on using torture and GITMO?

Yeah, lets do grow up little liberal children and have an “honest straightforward discussion” without liberal bias, slant and censorship.


May 23rd, 2009
11:56 am

Wow, Bob Barr the liberal commie. Shows you how far these whackos are reaching these days….


May 23rd, 2009
12:32 pm

What Reid is trying to say is that if you incarcerate them in American prisons, they may be paroled in the future, and if incarcerated in any particular state they will be paroled in that same state. Some will be in for life, but not all and still others won’t be tried at all. If not tried and no country is willing to accept them, they what? Can anyone make a case that we can hold them indefinitely on US soil in a US prison? No. We have something called the American court system that rules over government even when the Constitution says otherwise. Its called spinning the law of the land.

Michael H. Smith

May 23rd, 2009
12:42 pm

And that reply is an honest straightforward grown up discussion? Where exactly is the statement that says Bob Barr is a liberal commie? Now was something said about wackos reaching….

Fact remains many in Congress on both political sides supported “enhanced interrogations”, GITMO and knew about the entire situation all along, only to now reverse their previous statements or remain in a state of denial.

Want to prosecute George Bush? Fine, though, it will profit the country nothing and strengthen our enemies to see us hanging ourselves with our own technical legal rope. Face the facts, George Bush was convicted last November and Congress did vote against closing GITMO for reasons other than this inference that it is due to irrational fear. As it is becoming apparent Obumer had no real plan that even members of his own liberal party could get behind and support. And while Obumer continues to bash Bush he continues the very Bush policies he condemns and uses them as his own.

I know it is hard to believe and never will be accepted by the left-wingers, the leftist ACLU or a conservative Bob Barr but as I said originally this could be as simple as we Americans just do not want these radical Islamic terrorists inside our country. Do bear in mind that other countries do not want these terrorists either, even some of their own home countries refuse to accept them. It’s bad enough that we have to keep our own domestic terrorists who hate this country inside America.

Pelosi and Schumer need to come clean Bob Barr, if this is about the world not seeing our hypocrisy. For at the moment they both are seen as a weakness sorely in need of a truth commission.

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 23rd, 2009
1:36 pm

GodHatesTrash, Superstar has the IQ of a carrot. Please Ms. Trash, move out of your moms basement and get a real job.

Avery J.

May 23rd, 2009
3:23 pm

Setting a precedent for US prisons to indefinitely hold anyone who hasn’t been convicted of a crime is a horrible idea — one that could be turned against Americans in the future. Obama acknowledges that they are too dangerous to let go, and wants to create the authority to put them in the SuperMaxs even though some can’t be charged.

If this happens, how long will it be before US citizens merely accused of being dangerous are sent into the prison system as well? Twisting our constitutional and legal systems to accommodate the relatively short-term needs of a couple hundred Gitmo detainees will have very serious consequences that are not being discussed here.

Terrorist captured on foreign battlefields are not US citizens; Americans should not be asked to support any plan that would allow our prisons to detain anyone who has not been convicted in our courts. Keeping GITMO open will protect our own civil rights in the long run.

Micahel H. Smith

May 23rd, 2009
6:31 pm

Very astute reasoning and even more accurate is the assessment of what not only hasn’t been discussed here, is the discussion that didn’t occur in the Congress, notwithstanding the presence of a then Senator Obama. America has never before had to deal with this particular problem of combatant foreign terrorists. In the opinion of many our Constitution and laws are possibly inadequate to correctly answer what to do with such individuals beyond the scope of observing their human rights. Because of this avoidance eventually the Supreme Court will likely decide the discussion. They must have a trial but what type of trial and before what court or tribunal shall they be tried? What will be the extend of punishment carried out against them should they be found guilty? One fact remains certain, the United States of America has the sovereign right to deny any foreign citizen entry and residency in this country. Another fact is that we U.S. taxpayers have spent a good deal of money making GITMO secure and very humanely comfortable for these enemy combatants, probably to the point that GITMO as is, would be considered more accommodating than a Federal Super-Max prison, as Sen. Jim Web pointed out. So what is the rush, why a one year deadline to close GITMO, other than to serve the hypocrisy of politics before a candid world?

Not buying Obumer’s and Gate’s propaganda about the taint of GITMO strengthening our enemies. The taint of their GITMO politics has done the job of strengthening of our enemies already.

If given the choice between detention on a tropical island like Cuba or incarceration in 23 hour a day locked down inside a Super-Max Federal prison, most of us would opt to take the Federal taxpayer lifetime paid vacation being offered in sunny GITMO.


May 24th, 2009
8:05 am

80 billion dollars!
Eighty billion dollars!!

It would cost EIGHTY BILLION DOLLARS to BEGIN closing this prison???

Jay rules Andy

May 24th, 2009
8:13 am

Dick Cheney can out a CIA operative, but Nancy Pelosi isn’t allowed a disagreement with the CIA?

Put em in a Dumbo state

May 24th, 2009
2:32 pm

Do you suppose it is because socialists will not work and expect the government (we working taxpayers) to keep them up?

Unemployment 20% Higher in Democrat Strongholds

Unemployment in April remained 20 percent higher in states won by Democratic candidate Barack Obama in last fall’s presidential election than in states won by Republican candidate John McCain, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics released yesterday. Nationwide, the unemployment rate went from 8.5 percent in March to 8.9 percent in April. WND previously reported that if unemployment numbers in the states won by Obama do not begin improving soon, the Democratic Party may face the prospect of 2010 mid-term election losses in both governor races and in Congress. A national telephone survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports has found…

Avery J.

May 24th, 2009
6:07 pm

Micahel H. Smith, right on. There is a website dedicated to the exploration of these issues at that you and others here might want to take a look at.


May 24th, 2009
6:28 pm

When Bob Barr isn’t giving us a libertarian rant, he occasionally says something very rational.

William H. in Lithonia

May 25th, 2009
4:22 am

Hey Bob Barr I agree. But it’s not fear of the terrorists, it’s the fear that they will be aquitted. After all, they have not been proven guilty of anything yet. And if they were indeed tortured any evidence obtained by that torture must be thrown out. Republicans are more afraid their Bush administration will be found guilty of violating 4rth Amendment Rights, that’s the real fear. After all, their reasoning for going to war in the first place was proven false – along with the cooked up facts they sold it to us with.

I know some do not think our rights extend beyond our boundary – but wasn’t one of the reasons used to sell us the Iraq War that we were ‘exporting our democratic values’? Just what do unalienable rights mean anyway? Are they human rights or not?

You can’t have it both ways, but hypocritical republicans by nature will try. I’m glad we have some people in office now that believe government should be for the good of humanity, unlike the last regime.

Mike Frazzini

May 26th, 2009
11:07 pm

I think its niave and simplistic to think that the fear is based on these enemy combatants coming to the US. Of course they would be secured. I believe the real concern is whether or not due process and a trial applies, and the facts and security issues that could come as a result.

guenstig uebernachten

March 8th, 2010
6:49 pm

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