I applaud the president for wanting to do this, but they'll never let him:
The White House is drafting options that would allow President Barack Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said....The reaction to this is 100% predictable:
The administration hopes to tamp down controversy by reducing the inmate population by at least half through quickly transferring Guantanamo detainees cleared for release....
Nonetheless, administration officials say the detention center can't be closed without sending at least some of the remaining inmates to the U.S. mainland.
Unilateral action "would ignite a political firestorm, even if it's the best resolution for the Guantanamo problem," said American University law professor Stephen Vladeck. Republicans are sure to oppose it, while Democrats could be split, he said.This is where the entire heartland -- certainly the entire white heartland -- will turn into a bloc of seal-the-borders crazies. To heartlanders, it's going to feel like a border invasion -- and it will probably come at the same time as executive action on immigration, as well as continued fear of Ebola and Enterovirus-68. I live in a city that's full of foreigners, so I don't quite understand this, but if you live in a place where everybody looks like you and talks like you and change happens slowly, these all seem like the same sort of invasion. I find that way of thinking utterly illogical, but everything I know about Americans tells me it's how most of them think.
The polls certainly aren't on Obama's side:
A Gallup poll released in June said 29% of Americans support closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and transferring detainees to U.S. prisons, while 66% oppose the idea.And if this is Obama's sense of how Americans will be mollified, he's nuts:
Part of the administration's strategy for reducing political opposition to lifting the ban on transferring detainees is to whittle the number in Guantanamo to the point where the cost of maintaining the installation is unpalatable. The annual cost per inmate is $2.7 million, in contrast with $78,000 at a supermax prison on the mainland, officials say.You can raise heartlanders' blood pressure to dangerous levels just by telling them about a federally funded cow-flatulence study that cost taxpayers $50,000 (even if the study is very useful in understanding the spread of atmospheric toxins), but millions, billions, even trillions of dollars spent defending America against The Other is just money well spent. Defense spending is free! Everyone knows that! It adds nothing to the debt or deficit!
"As the number becomes smaller at Guantanamo, the case for domestic transfers...becomes that much stronger," a senior administration official said.
How ugly will this get? This ugly:
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) on Friday vowed to block all legislation in the Senate with a prolonged filibuster if President Obama tries to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States....Me too -- them and a lot of Democrats.
Roberts made a similar threat back in 2009, when Obama originally signaled he wanted to relocate detainees to the United States. At the time, the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth, as well as a maximum-security prison in Obama's home state of Illinois were being considered to house the prisoners....
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who is traveling through the state this week on Roberts's campaign bus, said he would join the filibuster. Roberts predicted he would have broad support from his colleagues.
"I will have help on this. I can see John McCain there and I can see Lindsey Graham there and I can see Kelly Ayotte there and I can see a whole bunch of other people there," Roberts said.
Wonder how soon this is going to start showing in campaign ads for Roberts -- and for Mitch McConnell, Joni Ernst, Scott Brown, etc., etc.
I'm sorry to say that this effort will not succeed. On this, America is provincial and irrational, and not even remotely liberal.
UPDATE: John Boehner speaks.
"Even as Islamic jihadists are beheading Americans, the White House is so eager to bring these terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the United States that it is examining ways to thwart Congress and unilaterally re-write the law," Boehner said in a statement. "Not only is this scheme dangerous, it is yet another example of what will be this administration’s legacy of lawlessness."You can't behead Americans from inside a freakling supermax prison. But it's futile -- Americans just can't understand that these prisoners lack superpowers.