An overwhelming bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate did something Wednesday that would elicit overwhelming bipartisan support in communities across America. They voted 90-6 to prevent the transfer of terrorists and those who aided them, now in confinement at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the U.S. mainland. And, further, they denied the Obama Administration $80 million the President sought to close the Guantanamo holding facility by January.
The vote came as FBI Director Robert Mueller warned that bringing the bad guys here presented risks that ranged from “concerns about providing financing, radicalizing others” to increasing “the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States.” And, of course, somewhere there breathes a federal judge who will seek to begin the process to release them, even here if no other nation will take them.
U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), responding to public concerns, has introduced legislation called “Protecting America’s Communities Act” to prohibit the transfer. Said Chambliss:
“People across America are very concerned that this administration has not developed a plan for what to do with these hard-core terrorists once the detention center at Guantanamo is shuttered. Americans are concerned that they will be released into the United States. It is important to remember most detainees held at Guantanamo were captured on the battlefields in Afghanistan or Iraq and were determined to be a threat to our nation’s security. Whatever their ties to terrorists groups or activities, these individuals should never be given the privilege of crossing our borders, even if incarcerated. To do so would be nothing short of an invitation for al-Qaida to operate inside our homeland.”
Under Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 of the Constitution, Congress has the absolute power to exclude aliens for security reasons that include terrorist activities, he said. He;d add to the no-entry list “an alien who, as of January 1, 2009, was being detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.”
Other provisions would seek to ensure that if the President does find a way to transfer them here, they won’t be released until another country is willing to take them. The legislation also acknowledges that armed conflict exists with al-Qaida, the Taliban and related forces and reaffirms the President’s authority to detain enemy fighters regardless of where they’re captured.
During the political campaign, President Obama mocked the Bush Administration for its handling of Guantanamo and those held there. Six months into reality, the realization is beginning to settle in over those who now exercise power that campaign sound bites that comforted the left make for lousy national security policy.