Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Oh, goody -- Senator Dianne Feinstein has finally been moved to point out that Americans know how to imprison people, presumably including even super-scary swarthy Muslim super-terrorists:

FEINSTEIN: Yes, we have maximum security prisons in California eminently capable of holding these people as well, and from which people -- trust me -- do not escape. So I believe that this has really been an exercise in fear-baiting. I hope it’s not going to be successful.

Senator Dick Durbin said something similar last night:

DURBIN: ...I would just say to my colleagues who made those statements, you ought to take a look at some of our security facilities in the United States, and you ought to have a little more respect for the men and women who are corrections officers and put their lives on the line every single day to keep us safe and to make sure that those who are dangerous are detained and incarcerated. The reality is that we’re holding some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world right now in our federal prisons, including the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the shoe bomber, the Unabomber, and many others.

Jon Stewart made the same point last night -- but do you know when he first made this point? Do you know when he first invoked America's demonstrated ability to house extraordinarily dangerous people, including (as he noted again last night) criminals who've eaten people's brains?

It was late January, mere days after the president announced that he was closing Gitmo.

That's when the Democrats should've begun defending Obama's changes to U.S. detention policy. That's when they should have set the terms of the debate. Because that's when the Republicans began setting the terms of the debate. At the very least, they could have started flooding the zone two weeks ago, when Republicans began rolling out the "Keep Terrorists Out of America Act."

They didn't. And now they're running scared. (Funding to close Gitmo was just blocked in the Senate on a 90-6 vote, and Durbin and Pelosi Feinstein voted with the majority, although they claim it's because they're still waiting for a plan from the White House.)

(CORRECTION: Ali Frick of Think Progress said Durban voted yes, but he voted no, along with Senators Tom Harkin, Pat Leahy, Carl Levin, Jack Reed, and Sheldon Whitehouse. Good for them.)


May I just say that if these guys are brought to America, I actually don't care if they escape? I mean that. Besides the fact that I don't believe any would escape, what would really happen if they did?

It's frightening when a violent criminal who's lived in this country escapes from prison largely because that person, suddenly free in a strange town, has a reasonable idea of how to function in the outside world. It's the criminal's own country. The criminal speaks the language, probably looks like the surrounding population, and knows how the American landscape tends to be laid out.

None of this is true of the Gitmo detainees.

Also, what we fear in the case of our own prisoners is that their past crimes were simple crimes of violence driven at least partly by impulse. The jihadists we fear work exactly the opposite way -- they plan for long periods of time. How long was 9/11 on the drawing board?

If any of these prisoners were to escape, the entire nation would be on alert. Assuming we even were dealing with "the worst of the worst" and not just someone randomly swept up on a battlefield or turned in to U.S. forces years ago as an act of tribal revenge, what is this instant Public Enemy No. 1 going to be able to accomplish? How far is he going to be able to get, and what (if anything) is he going to be able to do (or even have a plan for doing) before he's caught?

Gimme a break. The brain eaters are much more frightening, and we send them through the system without ever losing a second's sleep.

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