WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s allies in the Senate will not provide funds to close the Guantanamo Bay prison until the administration comes up with a satisfactory plan for transferring the detainees held there, top Democrats said Tuesday. And in a further break with Obama, the Senate’s top Democrat said he opposes transferring any Guantanamo prisoners to the United States for their trials or to serve their sentences. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has said 50 to 100 Guantanamo detainees may be transferred to U.S. facilities.
“I can’t make it any more clear,” Reid said. “We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.”
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo is not dead — only that the funding will have to wait until the administration devises an acceptable plan to handle the closure and transfer the detainees. Obama has promised to close the military prison by January.
“The administration has not come up with a plan at this point,” said Durbin, who is the whip, or No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. He added that Democrats are likely to address the issue on later legislation. “I think Guantanamo should be closed and we have to wait for the president’s direction on what happens to the detainees.”
Durbin said that he could support transferring detainees to U.S. prisons. “Our prisons are filled with dangerous people, including terrorists. And not a single one has escaped,” he said.
That’s a perfectly sensible position. Congress does have the right to know what Obama’s plan is going to be before it approves money for the plan. That’s fine and appropriate.
However, Reid’s stance is more than a little muddled. In its version of the story, Politico noted what it called the Senate majority leader’s “seemingly contradictory comments.”
“Reid said that closing Guantanamo was the right decision but “We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.” Asked next, if he could see a day when Guantanamo detainees might be transferred to prisons on American soil, Reid refused to clarify his remarks. “We don’t want them around,” he said.”
Buck up, Harry. Nobody’s talking about releasing terrorists into the U.S. population, and any terrorists sent to mainland U.S. prisons can be held there quite safely. Like I’ve written before, they could put all of ‘em right down the road from my house at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, and I wouldn’t lose a second of sleep. If a man’s dangerous, lock him up and keep him there.
However, as the AP story points out, last week the French accepted a detainee released from Gitmo after apparently buying U.S. assurances that the man isn’t a terrorist and doesn’t pose a danger. It’s pretty clear by now that at least some of those at Gitmo weren’t “the worst of the worst,” as Rummie tried to claim. Some of them were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The idea that Americans are too frightened to do what the French have already done…. like I said, buck up, Harry.