Friday, May 8, 2009

Good Questions About Gitmo Detainees, No Good Answers

The questions of how, where and whether to release the Gitmo Gang are much in the news right now.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal asked where is the Pentagon going to send the Yeminis?, and pointed out that the Secretary of Defense told Congress he doesn't know.

This mess grew even more chaotic this week, when Democrats refused the Administration's $50 million budget request to transfer some of the remaining 241 Gitmo detainees to a prison likely to be somewhere in the U.S. and perhaps to a new one built with taxpayer dollars.

"What do we do with the 50 to 100 -- probably in that ballpark -- who we cannot release and cannot try?" Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently asked Congress.

The best answer is Gitmo.

Congressmen from both parties are starting to oppose the resettlement of homeless terrorists in the United States, and yesterday they grilled Attorney-General Holder, who tap-danced around the issue:

Republicans critical of Obama's plan claim Guantanamo detainees cannot legally be brought to the United States because federal law bars entry to anyone who has received terrorist training.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., pressed Holder to say whether he believed he had the authority to release someone with terrorist training into the United States. The attorney general did not directly answer Shelby's question, but said the government doesn't have any plans to release terrorists.

"With regard to those who you would describe as terrorists, we would not bring them into this country and release them, anyone we would consider to be a terrorist," Holder said.

You see, Congressman, it all depends on the meaning of the word "terrorist." Also on the meanings of "describe" and "consider," not to mention "bring" and "country" and "release." I hope that answers your question.

The Democrat Chair at the hearing didn't sound any likelier than the Republicans to welcome the wretched refuse of Gitmo's teeming shore to her district:

The Democrat chairing the subcommittee hearing, Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, also voiced misgivings, saying local and state elected officials should be told if they are going to receive detainees.

Mikulski said she and other lawmakers "would be very concerned" about not being consulted on what the plans are for detainees brought to the U.S.

A bill was introduced in Congress yesterday to place political roadblocks in the path of any resettlement of terrorists. Here's a summary of the provisions:

Affirming Congress’ Opposition to the Release and Transfer of Terrorists. The bill affirms Congress’ opposition to transferring or releasing terrorists held at the Guantanamo Bay prison into the United States. Most Americans do not support releasing these terrorists from Guantanamo Bay prison and transferring them into the United States. The bill gives Congress an opportunity to show that it stands with the American people on this critical matter, and opposes the release and transfer of these terrorists.

Governor & State Legislature Pre-Approval. The measure prohibits the Administration from transferring or releasing any terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay to any state without express approval from the state’s governor and legislature, and certifies to Congress that strict requirements have been met. For example, the Administration must certify to the respective governor and state legislature that the detainee does not pose a security risk to the United States. The certifications must be made 60 days before any transfer or release.

Presidential Certification Requirements. The measure prohibits the President from transferring or releasing a terrorist detainee into the United States unless he provides the following notification and certification to Congress regarding:

• The name of the detainee and transfer/release location in the United States.

• The release/transfer would not negatively impact continued prosecution of the detainee.

• The release/transfer would not negatively impact continued detention of the detainee.

• The ability of federal judges to release detainees into the United States.

Clearly, domestic opposition is rising against bringing any Gitmo detainees to the U.S., much less releasing any that the administration would "describe" or "consider" not to be "terrorists."

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