Guantanamo Closed? Bipartisan Pushback Increases

Despite attempts of many of both sides of the political aisle to make disposition of Guantanamo and its detainees into a Democrat-Republican battle, it has become increasingly clear that this hot-button issue is strictly bipartisan.

Chicago Tribune writer Steve Chapman, in a Townhall article, dismisses relocation to the US as being greeted with “disconcerting shrieks of panic” by Republicans. Chapman quotes Republican pollster Glen Bolger “This issue is at the intersection of good policy and good politics.”

Maybe, but de-politicizing Guantanamo will yield the best policy.

On the other end of the spectrum, President Obama’s decisions to resume military tribunals have been attacked by the ACLU and Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin. At what point, Benjamin said, sending a thinly-veiled threat to the administration, “When” do we start considering Obama a “war criminal.”

Yet attempting to twist the Gitmo question into just another politics-as-usual, polarizing argument is a bit difficult when many top Democrats have serious concerns of their own, as they should. This should not be played out as simply one more “formulaic sitcom” on the Hill when, in fact, Americans from all over the country are understandably concerned.

Democratic Senator, author, and former Secretary of the Navy James Webb (D-VA), weighed in heavily with a suggestion that the Obama administration put on the brakes. “We should close down Guantanamo at the right time,” he said. “I think what’s happened is Guantanamo has become the issue, rather than how we process these people who were detained there.”

Webb suggests something of an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to Guantanamo. “We spent hundreds of millions of dollars building an appropriate facility with all security precautions on Guantanamo to try these cases,” Webb said. “I do not believe they should be tried in the United States.”

Obama’s own HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, when governor of Kansas strongly supported Gitmo closure, and just as adamantly opposed having them in her state. The NIMBY argument, generated by public outrage and concern has overweighed even administration supporters who must face constituents.

Pennsylvania Democrat Jack Murtha stands virtually alone as welcoming Gitmo detainees to his district. This unpopular stance has already become an issue in his campaign against Iraqi war veteran challenger William Russell.

Though the media continues to cast this as a conservative-liberal issue, one quick look at House appropriations actions dispels that notion. Led by Wisconsin Democrat David Obey, the Appropriations Subcommittee pointedly removed $80 million in funding for relocation of Guantanamo detainees to the US from the administration’s requested budget. “When they have a plan we’ll consider it,” Obey said, “they can get back to us then.”

Referring specifically to the Chinese Uighers slated for possible release soon into the US, Webb said it best. In a sign of the kind of opposition that such relocation has generated, he said relocating them to Virginia wasn’t an option. “On the one hand, it can be argued they were conducting dissident activities against the government of China,” he said. “On the other, they accepted training from al Qaeda, and as a result they have taken part in terrorism.”

And that is the bottom line for consideration regardless of politics: these men are trained terrorists and need to be handled as such. It is not a matter of rhetoric from the left or the right, not a case of “fear mongering” generated by any Party, or an issue to be spun by commentators who are far more interested in who gets elected next.

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2 Responses to “Guantanamo Closed? Bipartisan Pushback Increases”

  1. G3 Says:

    What was Webb saying before the election on GITMO?

  2. online stock trading guru Says:

    There’s good info here. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Keep up the good work mate!

    I’m Out! 🙂

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