Last Wednesday, Senator Dianne Feinstein tried to resuscitate a dead political issue by releasing a Government Accountability Office study on the feasibility of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and transferring its inmates to prisons in the United States. She had commissioned the GAO study in 2008.
Why release the report now, three years after the expiration of the Obama administration's self-imposed deadline to close GITMO? Because, as she told the New York Times:
“This report demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantánamo without imperiling our national security.”
Really? Where does she think this political will might exist? Not in these United States, where both the House and the Senate passed bills to prohibit closure back in 2009, when that was still a live possibility. Passed them by overwhelming margins. Gallop polls back then found that 65 percent of Americans opposed moving GITMO prisoners to the U.S., and by even higher margins opposed moving the prisoners to their own states.
One day after Senator Feinstein's trial balloon, another Senator introduced the latest amendment to prohibit closing GITMO:
The Senate late Thursday night approved a Republican amendment [to an annual defense authorization bill on the Senate floor this week] that would prohibit the transfer of terrorist detainees from Guantánamo Bay to U.S. prisons.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) introduced Amendment 3245, which would prevent the Department of Defense from using funds to move suspected terrorists from Gitmo facilities to prisons within the United States.
Kelly Ayotte is a Republican but the Senate is controlled by Democrats, and the amendment passed 54 to 41. Count that vote and see how much political will there is to close GITMO.
The defense authorization bill already contains a ban on transferring any more GITMO detainees to foreign countries. There's that political will thing, again.
Senator Feinstein might as well pull that trial balloon back down and put it away.