In a press release dated (approximately) two years ago, Senator Dianne Feinstein announced she was introducing legislation ordering the Department of Defense, then managed by Bush-appointee Robert Gates (um very much related to Obama-appointee Robert Gates) to close the war detention facility maintained at Guantanamo Bay.
" “Guantanamo Bay has become a lightning rod for international condemnation,” California's junior senator said in her press release. "“This has greatly damaged the nation’s credibility around the world. Rather than make the United States safer, the image projected by this facility puts us at greater risk. The time has come to close it down.”
Senator Feinstein's legislation, according to her own press release, required the president, then George W. Bush, to close the detention facility within a year and transfer those still held at the facility to:
(a) "any international legal tribunal that may be authorized for this purpose,"
(b) "The detainees’ home nations or a third-party government for further processing,"
(c) "a facility in the United States for continued detention, where authorized," or (d) " a "a civilian or military facility in the United States and charged with a violation of U.S. or international law for prosecution in a civilian or military proceeding."
I purposely highlighted those passages referring to the detainees' potential incarceration in detention facilities within the United States because they are particularly relevant to the debate the Democrats ceded today. The Republicans raised a new battle cry against closing Guantanamo Bay this week. "Not in my backyard," they said.
Why, they asked, would we bring these terrorists to the United States where they can do us some harm? "The American people don’t want these men walking the streets of America’s neighborhoods," Senator John Thune said (see The New York Times).
Apparently it had never occurred to the Democratic leaders in the "deliberative" body on Capitol Hill that our prisons do not protect the people within the surrounding communities from the criminals that get locked up within them. These prisoners, apparently are free to roam around within the confines of their jail cells, the jails where they are assigned to, and the communities where these prisons are located. In fact, it did not occur to the Democrats that these prisons are run like hotels. The detainees are given the keys to their jail cells. They can buzz themselves out at any time and most significantly (the horror, the horror) they leave the facilities at any moment.
Our Democratic representatives didn't think about this before they called for the Guantanamo's closure. They didn't think about this problem when they rebuked President George W. Bush for inflaming the Middle East by incarcerating these "enemy war combatants" in Guantanamo Bay indefinitely and they didn't think about this when they signed onto Senator Dianne Feinstein's
These concerns weren't raised by Senator Dianne Feinstein in this bill she supposedly sponsored but it did, inexplicably arise by the time she voted for a "sense of the senate resolution" sponsored by Republican Senator (and then Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell. Today she again reversed course, disputing the "all hell would break lose" argument and made the case for us prison lobbyists sending these prisoners to maximum security prisons before inexplicably voting against the funding President Barack Obama would use to close Guantanamo Bay down.
I say "inexplicably" because they say no such funding should be given to close the facility until President Barack Obama came up with a plan to remove the prisoners and ship them abroad. What is he going to do, give them a ticket so they can get on an airplane in Newark, New York or DC?
Why, on earth, didn't the Democrats think of this when they first called for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility? or before they endorsed President Barack Obama for president? Obviously a man who would release the prisoners without a plan to securely transfer these prisoners to another facility before closing the existing one at Guantanamo Bay shouldn't be our president. So why on earth didn't they think of all of this before they backed Obama and before they called for Guantanamo Bay's closure?
Because the parade of horrors which the Republicans raise have not and would not occur. Prisoners are locked up. Guards keep a watch over their behavior outdoors. Maximum security prisons hold the most dangerous and unruly of prisoners and rules are in place to deny them fresh air and contact with the outside world 23 hours a day. Prison escapes are rare. And what are we to make of the Republicans' assertion that these prisons would become potential terrorist targets since they would house terrorists? Nada. Guantanamo Bay wasn't attacked and there are more of them held together within the confines of limited space then there ever would be at any one given facility from which they are transferred to.
The nearly always disappointingly weak-kneed and dimwit of a Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-Nevada), said we have to "release the prisoners" before we can send them to prison.
So the prisoners must be released before they turn themselves in using the honor system?
Does Senator Reid given any thought to his retirement?