Where Has She Been?

San Francisco Chronicle’s Rachel Gordon reports today that Senator Diane Feinstein wants Guantanamo Bay’s detention facility closed “within a year.” That comes as no big surprise as everyone in the Democrat Party including the president-elect has said similar things. The year-long delay is interesting in that pervious calls for closure have been more of the close-it-immediately variety. Perhaps the reality of the complexity of issues associated with closure are beginning to take hold now that the Democrats will shortly “own” Guantanamo.

Feinstein continues though to express concerns about things that either are happening or seem benign. She wants a prohibition of government contractors from interrogating detainees. This seems odd in that because of defense budget shortfalls – imposed in large part by cuts from Feinstein and her like-minded colleagues the military does not have an available pool of qualified interrogators on hand. Supervised contractors – as is presently the case – conduct many of the interrogations simply because uniformed interrogators don’t exist in sufficient quantity to supply needs in Guantanamo and military theaters.

Another complaint that Feinstein voiced was that the Red Cross needs to have access to detainees. This is puzzling in that the ICRC has had a permanent presence at Guantanamo for several years and has a representative stationed at the facility who is granted unlimited access to grounds and detainees. Perhaps she is referring to the American Red Cross, although one wonders why that institution would be involved at all.

Further Feinstein wishes for use of torture to be outlawed “once and for all,” yet this was accomplished by US Code Title 18 January 3, 2007. Senator Feinstein voted to support this bill into law. Has she forgotten?

What makes statements like Feinstein’s particularly annoying is that she – through feigned or actual ignorance – continues to propagate myths that the US routinely engages in torture and that torture occurs at Guantanamo. It is long past time that partisan lawmakers cease such hyperbolic posturing and focus instead on the genuine, troubling issues that must be solved prior to closure of Guantanamo in a manner that supports US security interests.

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