Senate Democrats Refuse to Fund Gitmo Closing

The AP reports that Senate Democrats will be denying the appropriations to the Pentagon that will be needed in order to close down the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

President Barack Obama’s allies in the Senate will not provide funds to close the Guantanamo Bay prison next January, a top Democratic official said Tuesday.

With debate looming on Obama’s spending request to cover military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the official says Democrats will deny the Pentagon and Justice Department $80 million to relocate Guantanamo’s 241 detainees.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposed changes to the bill were to be unveiled later.

The administration has yet to develop a plan for what to do with the detainees, and Obama’s promise to close the facility is facing strong GOP opposition.

This is just plain stupidity. The idea that somehow domestic prisons aren’t up to the task of handling these detainees is ludicrous. Get them into the system. Get them hearings. Release the innocent ones. This is a no brainer. The camps in Guantanamo Bay have become a stain on America’s reputation, a betrayal of her principles, and a rallying cry for her enemies. Close them down.

FILED UNDER: National Security, ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    Dude, is it just me or does this place get pretty bland when J-Dawg is gone??!

    No offence to Napster or the Shue, but I’ve been looking for a crazy J-Dawg post extolling the virtues of George Will’s latest column or telling us how the EU is going to hell in a handbasket.

    Bring it on, J-Dawg!

  2. markm says:

    The idea that somehow domestic prisons aren’t up to the task of handling these detainees is ludicrous.

    I don’t think the issue is the prison themselves. I think it’s a 100% NIMBY issue and locally people are against it. I think it’s that simple.

    I would rather them go to GITMO East (Bagram) before staying on the contiguous.

  3. markm says:

    Harry Reid had a presser yesterday and had these two related quotes:

    “But Reid went further than saying he wanted to see a plan for the money before Congress approves it.
    “We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States,” he said.”

    “Part of what we don’t want is them be put in prisons in the United States,” Reid clarified but digging himself into a bigger hole by departing significantly from some of his colleagues and administration officials. “We don’t want them around the United States.”

    Now, his quotes may be part of a gaffe riddled presser but I think it’s wise to put the binders on funding the closure of GITMOT until SOMEBODY has a plan or a clue.

  4. Eric Florack says:

    This is merely one more example of the BDS crowd having their attitudes adjusted for them once they’re the ones in charge. For all the screaming about how Bush handled things, about everything they’ve done of any substance since taking control of all three branches of our government has done nothing but vindicate Bush’s handling of terrorism.

    Exposure to reality will do that for you.

  5. Mike says:

    Obama will get yet another free pass on this campaign promise – Eric is correct that things change when you are in the driver’s seat and can’t just rely on one liners during an election stop – he’ll get a free pass on this just like with the DADT promise, get us out of Iraq promise… it is almost like things haven’t changed.

  6. G.A.Phillips says:

    crap, give me 80 million and ill watch them.

    and a rallying cry for her enemies.

    lol, I agree with this part.

  7. G.A.Phillips says:

    it is almost like things haven’t changed.

    well i don’t see the military deaths total plastered every were, everyday, every minute any more, I don’t see the donkey’s coming out to undermine the war effort every were, everyday, every minute anymore.
    some things have changed.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    IMO this supports the take I’ve had on the subject: the Bush Administration put prisoners in Guantanamo because they didn’t know what else to do with them. Looks like that hasn’t changed under the new administration. Nobody knows what to do with them.

    Note that I’m talking about the political aspect of it not the juridical. There doesn’t appear to be a solution that’s politically acceptable. So you stick them offshore and hope everybody forgets about them.

  9. markm says:

    There doesn’t appear to be a solution that’s politically acceptable. So you stick them offshore and hope everybody forgets about them.

    I think keeping them at GITMO would be easier politically. He’s already sorda changed course on military tribunals. Bottom line, GITMO is the perfect place for what we need to do.

  10. Robert says:

    I wish the conversion by Reid and others was sincere but it is nothing more than an attempt to prevent a landslide loss in 2010. These terrorists were not picked up at the local Wal-Mart for shoplifting and the idea that our anemic and liberal court system could handle them stretches the imagination. After 12 years of being a cop I can tell you our courts are barely adequate to handle the shoplifters. These terrorists would eat our courts for breakfast and laugh all the way to an acquittal.

  11. sam says:

    @Robert

    After 12 years of being a cop I can tell you our courts are barely adequate to handle the shoplifters. These terrorists would eat our courts for breakfast and laugh all the way to an acquittal.

    I guess you’re speaking of state and municipal courts. (As an aside, I pulled a 3-month stint on grand jury duty in my location last year, and of the hundreds of cases we heard, we no-billed only two…of course, you can insert the ham sandwich clause here if you wish.)

    As for the federal courts, where the terrorists would be tried, taking the circuit courts and the 2006 stats:

    U.S. District Courts

    In FY 2006, total filings in the U.S. district courts rose slightly more than 1 percent to 326,401.

    Civil filings increased 3 percent to 259,541 primarily because of the addition of more than 14,000 asbestos diversity of citizenship cases in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The overall increase in filings caused the number of civil filings per authorized judgeship to rise from 374 to 383. Civil filings with the United States as plaintiff dropped 11 percent, mainly in response to declines in cases addressing defaulted student loans and foreclosures. Filings with the United States as defendant fell 17 percent as prisoner petitions decreased 33 percent. Primary contributors to the overall decrease in prisoner petitions were a 37 percent decline in motions to vacate sentence and a 33 percent drop in habeas corpus filings. These reductions may indicate a return to levels more consistent with the numbers of petitions filed prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Booker.

    Criminal filings fell 4 percent to 66,860 in FY 2006, and the number of defendants in these cases dropped 4 percent to 88,216. The median case disposition time for defendants climbed from 6.8 months in 2005 to 7.1 months in 2006, which may reflect the additional work required to process criminal cases affected by Booker.

    Criminal filings rose for both cases and defendants in property, sex, and regulatory offenses, but declined in crimes involving violence, drugs, firearms and explosives, the justice system, immigration, traffic, and general offenses. Changes in filings stemmed from shifts in priorities of the Department of Justice, which directed resources toward counterintelligence and preventing and combating terrorism. Property offense cases remained stable, rising by 45 cases to 11,810. The overall increase in sex offense cases stemmed from growth in filings related to both sexual abuse, up 8 percent to 729 cases, and sexually explicit materials, up 5 percent to 1,156 cases.

    Excluding transfers, the federal courts concluded proceedings against 87,985 defendants, an increase of 2 percent over the total for 2005. Of these defendants, 79,725 were convicted, a 91 percent conviction rate [My emphasis]. Eighty-seven percent of defendants disposed of —convicted or dismissed—pled guilty. [Source]

  12. Eric Florack says:

    I wish the conversion by Reid and others was sincere but it is nothing more than an attempt to prevent a landslide loss in 2010.

    Exactly so. reid is getting trounced in the polling out there, and his statements of yesterday are him trying to give hismelf some cover.

    Consider, this, though, also. A state liberal enough to have elected that fruitfly is reacting to his actions this badly? And look at the voting in California… by two to one leaping to the right.

    The landslide’s already on, folks, and I don’t think they’ll be able to stop it.

  13. JKB says:

    Release the innocent ones.

    Do you really believe after all the filters one of these guys goes through from the time they are picked up by an American unit, all the chances to keep them in country or return them to their home country, all the years with all the releases and all the ones who’ve been released only to go back to Al Quaeda, any of the ones left in GITMO are truly innocent. Perhaps they could develop a shadow of doubt but they are not innocent. I agree the camp is a black mark but just because the individual can’t plead his case in open court doesn’t mean someone hasn’t looked at the evidence.

    …and a rallying cry for her enemies.

    Look on the bright side, now that Obama could be hurt by the continued highlighting of GITMO, the Left will quieten down, the camp will slip from the papers and the “useful fools” will stop trying to use the issue for political advantage. You don’t hear much chatter about troops home now since Obama chose to continue the drawdown pretty much on the schedule the Bush administration was working on. So once the Left stops rallying our enemies with their cries over GITMO, the camp will muddle on in obscurity.

  14. This is just plain stupidity.

    You mean believing all the hopey-changy things that were said in the run up to the last election?

    Captain Renault wasn’t nearly as shocked as I am.

  15. Drew says:

    I really don’t know what all the fuss is about.

    They should be fed a hot meal, removed from that awful Gitmo, boarded on a boat, and then de-boarded at 35 degrees 27 minutes north lattitude, and 41 degrees 8 minutes west longitude.

    What’s the problem?

  16. PD Shaw says:

    Obama needs to sell this as a stimulus proposal. We close Gitmo, we spend $80 million to build a new facility to house the inmates. The Left reliably labels the facility Gitmo II. Democrats call for its closure because the name is a stain on America’s reputation in the world. Obama asks for $80 million dollars for a new facility . . . Repeat and rinse.

  17. PD Shaw says:

    Release the innocent ones

    I take it you believe the Uighurs should be released in the United States with all deliberate speed.

  18. Drew, I had almost exactly the same thought, but instead of using the word de-boarded, I would have used the word released.

  19. Ugh says:

    I take it you believe the Uighurs should be released in the United States with all deliberate speed.

    Today.

  20. Drew says:

    Resolved: “released.”

  21. markm says:

    I take it you believe the Uighurs should be released in the United States with all deliberate speed.

    Today.

    Jim Webb was making the rounds the other day saying he would not accept anyone from GITMO in his state including the Uighurs as there is some troubling linkage to them and AQI.

  22. Phil Smith says:

    $80 mil to move a few score prisoners? That tells me that just maybe they’re not so harmless.

  23. markm says:

    Related:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/05/20/judge-hold-detainees-indefinitely/

    And I guess they did vote down the funding moments ago.

  24. G.A.Phillips says:

    Obama asks for $80 million dollars for a new facility

    lol, Zero the 666 asks for 80 million just about every half day.

  25. legion says:

    After 12 years of being a cop I can tell you our courts are barely adequate to handle the shoplifters. These terrorists would eat our courts for breakfast and laugh all the way to an acquittal.

    Really? Not that it can’t be done, but where do you think these people will get the legal knowledge necessary to manipulate our courts? So many people seem to believe that everyone accused of terrorism is some kind of supergenius James Bond villain… fer chissakes, even the people we have at Gitmo who actually _are_ guilty are the people the real brains talked into doing the suicide missions – and they failed the suicide missions! These aren’t the creme of the crop, guys… the smarter a Gitmo detainee is, the more likely they are to be innocent.

  26. The idea that somehow domestic prisons aren’t up to the task of handling these detainees is ludicrous. Get them into the system. Get them hearings. Release the innocent ones. This is a no brainer. The camps in Guantanamo Bay have become a stain on America’s reputation, a betrayal of her principles, and a rallying cry for her enemies. Close them down.

    But seriously, it is difficult to know where to start with all these talking points and conclusions masquerading as arguments.

    The idea that somehow domestic prisons aren’t up to the task of handling these detainees is ludicrous.

    No it isn’t. Our prisons are stuggling mightily just to keep up today and in the eyes of some are the true great stain on America and her ideals, or perhaps you missed Senator Webb’s Parade Cover article “Why We Must Fix Our Prisons” of a few weeks ago where he said:

    With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different–and vastly counterproductive.

    Aside from the old bugaboo of a staggering false false dichotomy, is anyone else troubled by a US Senator who posits an either/or including the phrase “We are the most evil people on earth”? But I digress.

    The overcrowding, rampant abuses and other problems well documented by Senator Webb and others should give anyone pause about thinking our prisons can of course deal with these prisoners. Honestly, the prisoners are much better off and safer in Guantanamo than just about anywhere else they might be held, so long as they are being held by US authorities.

    Get them into the system.

    Hate to break it to you but they are in a system. I think you mean get them into the civilian criminal justice system, but that’s the rub, isn’t it. Is this a civilian criminal matter, or a military matter? In all past wars (and we are still at war, aren’t we?) captured prisoners were not put into any “system” other than military run POW camps, where they were to be held indefinitely without trial or due process until the military, i.e. the government, decided to release them. This usually conincided with a cessation of hostilities, which I don’t think we are likely to see for quite some time. Of course, it is true that I am referring to uniformed soldiers of countries we were at war with. Others captured not in uniform were susceptible to summary execution as spies. Is this what you have in mind?

    Get them hearings.

    Uh, no. See above.

    Release the innocent ones.

    Sure, as soon as you can determine who the innocent ones are. Look, I have no doubt that there may be a few people there who may not belong there, but I don’t think that is going to be resolved successfully by giving due process to everyone there. Bad things happen in war that are beyond anyone’s control. None of us have to like it, but we can’t just wish it away. Blackstone’s aphorism that “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer” doesn’t apply so well to terrorists. Just ask Harry Reid.

    This is a no brainer.

    Must. Fight. Urge. To. Crack. Wise.

    The camps in Guantanamo Bay have become a stain on America’s reputation, a betrayal of her principles, and a rallying cry for her enemies.

    Relying on that great philosopher Meatloaf (actually Jim Steinman, but again I digress), one out of three is kind of bad. There is no doubt that this is a rallying cry for America’s enemies, not to mention many of her erstwhile friends. I don’t regard Guantanamo as a stain on America’s reputation or a betrayal of her principles at all, but rather a workable solution to a problem that has no good answers. I can accept that your mileage may vary, but the last thing I would consent to is the judging of America’s values or her adherence to them by others who do not, and would not, consider sharing these values. The fact that many of those yelling the loudest about America’s evilness apparently refuse to accept any of these “innocents” themselves should they be released from captivity in Guantanamo should be an indicator of just how serious to take their complaints. But in the meantime, keep asking yourself why they hate us, secure in the knowledge that those who need a rallying cry for America’s enemies will never lack for a source of material so long as we remain a free people.

  27. legion, do you think O.J. Simpson was acquitted because he was really smart and able to manipulate our courts? There are no shortage of smart, able people who will take these cases on for the publicity, the self-righteousness, the money, the peer props, etc. …

  28. FranklinTest says:

    charles-

    When Alex talks about domestic prisons not being able to hold terrorists, I *think* he is talking about physically holding them. Surely high-priority prisoners in maximum security prisons have a fairly low escape rate.

    I don’t think that is not what Jim Webb is talking about – he’s talking about our criminal justice system in general, where for example we incarcerate drug users for long periods of time and turn them into real criminals.

    My opinion is that the physical prisons and the justice system are two separate issues to debate here. Alex may indeed be talking about both issues as one. However, I believe that the basic plan is to close Gitmo and move the suspected terrorists into other physical holding locations. I don’t see this as a problem in the slightest. Put them in my backyard if you want (just don’t give them any grenades to toss out between the bars of their windows).

    The question about how to try them is a good one, and I think you are probably right that our civilian system is inadequate.

    I respectfully disagree whether Gitmo is a negative symbol, but that debate is more about feelings than logic.

    -Franklin

  29. PD Shaw says:

    Franklin, the core of the NIMBY concern is that the detainees are to be released at some point. When and how are still to be answered.

    Even conservatives believe that they should be released if detaining them no longer serves a military purpose. The inextricable logic of the arguments from the left, (that the detainees having come onto American soil have acquired Constitutional rights), is that they should be released outright, or after a trial in which the prosecution’s evidence is barred by the Fifth Amendment.

    I think it’s reasonable to believe that if these people are detained in your local prison, some day they will be walking out that gate into your community.

  30. Drew says:

    I think part of the NIMBY issue is concerns that the sites would become terrorist targets. Any views on that?

  31. PD Shaw says:

    I think part of the NIMBY issue is concerns that the sites would become terrorist targets. Any views on that?

    Many supporters of bringing the jihadists into the country have done so with the condition that the prisons be built or modified to address the unique national security concerns posed by the detainees. I can’t conceive of any plan passing Congress that would not. And it’s as doable IMO as safely burrying nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain; just a matter of money and planning. To paraphrase, Senator Durbin, the Democrats have simply gotten tired of defending a non-existant plan.

  32. FranklinTest says:

    Regarding the release to the community, where exactly would they be released to if they were at Gitmo? We wouldn’t just let them roam off into the Cuban wilderness, right? In other words, what’s the difference?

    As for the prisons being targets of terrorism, that’s a good point. Spreading the prisoners out across the country would be a good idea for more than one reason, then.

  33. Brian Knapp says:

    I think it’s reasonable to believe that if these people are detained in your local prison, some day they will be walking out that gate into your community.

    No. They don’t have a legal right to be in the U.S. and after their sentence, if they violated U.S. law somehow, they would be deported.

    If they didn’t violate U.S. law, having no legal right to the U.S., they would be deported.

    Before they leave the prison, they will run standard checks and see that INS or ICE has an immigration hold on them and they will remain detained, awaiting pickup from the appropriate agency. And/or, they will be flagged by Homeland Security or the FBI.

    They won’t be walking out of the gate, into our community. But I understand the anxiety.

  34. Drew says:

    Brian –

    We can’t get anyone to take them today, before any trial or conviction. Where are you going to deport them after they are convicted??

  35. sam says:

    @Charles

    a workable solution to a problem that has no good answers

    I think that may be about right. The problem is, there are two Gitmos. The first is simply a geographic location not on the mainland of the US. It is reasonable to think that this Gitmo is an ideal place for those folks. The second is the Gitmo associated, rightly or wrongly, with torture, false imprisonment, etc. And it will do no good to loudly assert that these things are false of the first Gitmo, for in the eyes of the world, I’m afraid, that is the real Gitmo. It’s this one, the second one, that I think Obama is trying to close. But he can’t do it without closing the first.

  36. PD Shaw says:

    Brian Knapp, a D.C. judge ordered 17 detainees released last October. They were to be walked out of the courthouse in D.C. into the community. It can happen.

  37. anjin-san says:

    The landslide’s already on, folks, and I don’t think they’ll be able to stop it.

    Coming from the guy who correctly called the 2008 McCain landslide, this is powerful stuff.

    Oh, wait…

  38. FranklinTest says:

    Brian Knapp, a D.C. judge ordered 17 detainees released last October. They were to be walked out of the courthouse in D.C. into the community. It can happen.

    Were they ever convicted of anything? If not, one might consider that to be a significant difference.

  39. sam says:

    @PD

    Brian Knapp, a D.C. judge ordered 17 detainees released last October. They were to be walked out of the courthouse in D.C. into the community.

    Some context:

    Judge Orders 17 Detainees at Guantánamo Freed

    The Uighurs have long been at the center of contentious legal cases because they said they were swept into detention in Afghanistan in 2001 by mistake. They said they were in Afghanistan to seek refuge from China, where the Uighurs, Turkic Muslims, often bridle at Han Chinese rule.

    The Bush administration has fought the Uighurs in court for years, contending that their encampment in Afghanistan had ties to a Uighur terror group. Last summer, a federal appeals court ridiculed as inadequate the government’s secret evidence for holding one of the men. In the months since, the government has said that it would “serve no useful purpose” to continue to try to prove that any of these 17 men were enemy combatants.

    Lawyers for the Uighurs said the men would be persecuted or killed if they were returned to China. The administration said that since transferring five Uighur detainees to Albania in 2006, it had been unable to persuade governments to accept the other 17. Diplomats say many governments fear reprisal by China, which considers Uighur separatist groups terrorists.

  40. Brian Knapp says:

    Brian Knapp, a D.C. judge ordered 17 detainees released last October. They were to be walked out of the courthouse in D.C. into the community. It can happen.

    Were they American citizens? Were they actually released in the streets?

    Where are you going to deport them after they are convicted??

    If they are convicted of violating U.S. law, they stay here. After serving their sentence, we deport them back to their nation of origin. What else can we do? We can’t hold them indefinitely just because.

    And we can’t just hold them until the resolution of this “war” because there are no definable scenarios to win it.

  41. Drew says:

    Isn’t it amazing what happens when the blog proprietor leaves……? It gets boring.

    But a certain topic lighted this place up about two weeks ago……let’s see…close yer eyes…..and sing along, political junkies……

    “…………When I’m watchin’ my tv
    And that man comes on to tell me
    How white my shirts can be
    But he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke
    The same cigarrettes as me
    I can’t get no, oh no no no
    Hey hey hey, that’s what I say

    I can’t get no satisfaction
    I can’t get no girl reaction
    ’cause I try and I try and I try and I try
    I can’t get no, I can’t get no

    When I’m ridin’ round the world
    And I’m doin’ this and I’m signing that
    And I’m tryin’ to make some girl
    Who tells me baby better come back later next week
    ’cause you see I’m on losing streak
    I can’t get no, oh no no no
    Hey hey hey, that’s what I say……..”

    C’mon pooh bear……….

  42. andrew says:

    “The camps in Guantanamo Bay have become a stain on America’s reputation, a betrayal of her principles, and a rallying cry for her enemies.”

    No they haven’t.

  43. […] Two posts from Alex Knapp, here and here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Has anyone seen my shoes? I kicked them […]

  44. Drew says:

    “If they are convicted of violating U.S. law, they stay here. After serving their sentence, we deport them back to their nation of origin. What else can we do? We can’t hold them indefinitely just because.”

    Oh, OK. Well there you go!!!

    By the way, Dorothy, grab Toto quick, ’cause you ain’t in Kansas anymore………….

  45. PD Shaw says:

    Last Fall, a D.C. judge ordered the 17 Uighurs to be brought from Gitmo to his court room to be released. Uighur-Americans, as well as religious and liberal groups were prepared at that time to take the detainees into their homes to begin the process of adjusting them to life in America. I cannot confirm or deny that they would be housed in a foreclosed McMansion across the street from James Joyner.

    The decision was stayed by the Court of Appeals and is pending before the Supreme Court.

    NOTE: Dozens of countries have been asked to accept the Uighurs, beginning as far back as 2003. No civilized country wants them because they’re a bunch of crazed jihadists.

  46. An Interested Party says:

    So then anything except leaving them at Gitmo (or dropping them into the middle of the ocean after they’ve received a hot meal) is either dangerous and/or fantasy? It’s funny that we were told that releasing those prisoner abuse photos would inflame the Muslim world and cause our troops all kinds of harm (unlike the abuse itself, I guess) and, yet, keeping people locked up at Gitmo for an indefinite period (or just killing them as some of this blog’s more illustrious commenters have suggested) must be doing wonders for us…9/11 really did adversely affect some people who were nowhere near the Pentagon or Manhattan that day…no, we really aren’t in Kansas anymore…