Sunday, June 12, 2005

I don't know what to make of this:

KEY WEST - U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez said Friday that the Bush administration should consider Sen. Joseph Biden's suggestion to shut down the U.S. military's prison camp on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba....

His remarks to the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors/Florida Press Association convention were a departure for Martinez, Bush's former Housing and Urban Development secretary, who was elected senator last year with the strong backing of the White House.

..."It's become an icon for bad stories and at some point you wonder the cost-benefit ratio," said Martinez, R-Fla. "How much do you get out of having that facility there? Is it serving all the purposes you thought it would serve when initially you began it? Or can this be done some other way a little better?"

Martinez, a lawyer, added, "It's not very American, by the way, to be holding people indefinitely. Now they're like POWs, and the conflict is still ongoing and typically you wouldn't release POWs until the end of the conflict."....

Martinez is an anti-Castro Cuban-American. It would be understandable if that made him sensitive to indefinite detention and abuse of prisoners. But I assumed he was just another right-wing apparatchik, ever willing to agree with whatever Bush and Rush were saying this week. If that's not the case, I'll take it -- better a principled conservative than a Bushie clone.

When last we saw Mel Martinez, he was demanding that Terri Schiavo be kept alive, and, of course, the famous talking points memo on Schiavo was written by a Martinez staffer. During his Senate campaign, he attacked his Democratic opponent, Betty Castor, for allowing Sami al-Arian to keep his job as a professor at the University of South Florida when Castor was the university's president; Al-Arian was being investigated for possible ties to terrorists, and was later arrested. During the campaign, Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen called Martinez a "a nasty, right-wing drooler" whose game plan was typically Republican: "Monger as much fear of terrorism as possible." So the new statement on Gitmo suprises me.)

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