President Obama’s executive order setting a timeline for closing the prison facilities at Guantanamo, Cuba, has local Congressional Republicans up in arms. The region’s three Republican members introduced a bill to block transfers of inmates to local military prison facilities.
Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter and co-sponsored by Reps. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, and Darrell Issa, R-Vista, the legislation specifies that no federal funds may be used to bring about a transfer to Miramar Marina Corps Air Station or Camp Pendleton, or to “build, modify or enhance” any facility on those bases in order to house “enemy combatants.”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday rejected the argument by Congressional chicken hawks that moving Guantanamo Bay terror suspects to military bases poses a safety threat. Gates said the Defense Department has “developed some options” in terms of how many of the 245 detainees at the U.S. Naval base prison in Cuba can be returned to their home countries or other countries.
The Congressmen are using the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) argument because they oppose the President’s decision and would like to keep the current facility open. Having watched several episodes of FoxTv’s “24”, they have concluded that the Guantanamo detainees have superhuman abilities and, therefore, no domestic facility could possibly have enough security measures in place to safely contain them.
Never mind that if the few (the vast majority will not face prosecution) chargeable Gitmo detainees are brought into the justice system and treated them as the common criminals they are, we reduce their standing in the eyes of their peers, in the eyes of the international community — and in the eyes of America. And never mind that our domestic prisons already house convicted terrorists like Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, one of the planners of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.
These Congressmen seek the continuation of the failed policies of the Bush administration that have served as most excellent recruitment enticements for a new generation of Al Qaeda-style groups in the Middle East and Africa. Also, by playing the “fear card” with their constituents, they hope to keep the “war on terror” mentality alive.
Here’s hoping that people in San Diego have finally wised up to these kinds of tactics. If nothing else, they should know by now that governmental “war” that doesn’t involve an actual “declaration of war” is usually an excuse to covertly protect corporate interests, enrich a few contractors, expand executive powers or raise taxes. (See Iraq War, War on Drugs, et.al.)