‘Stop the Scaremongering’ – Prominent conservatives weigh in on relocating Guantanamo prisoners to U.S.

Amid the controversy regarding U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s Nov. 13 announcement that five high-profile “enemy combatants ” will be tried in a New York Federal Court is a related issue pertaining to the possible relocation of other Guantanamo Bay prisoners to facilities within the U.S.  Critics of both decisions, largely from the political-right, have sought to portray both moves as wrongheaded and dangerous.  Refutation of such criticism, however, is emerging from some surprising  sources.

The Associated Press reported Nov. 14 that the Obama administration is considering the Thomson Correctional Facility in Illinois as a potential home for Guantanamo detainees upon the closing of the controversial military prison.  Illinois Governor Pat Quinn  announced the following day that Thomson community leaders were receptive to the idea:

The potential relocation of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Thomson has already made for contentious political fodder in Illinois as the February primary elections approach.  Among the politicians most sensitive about the prospect is Republican Rep. Mark Kirk, one among eight GOP primary contenders to replace Democrat Rolland Burris in the U.S. Senate.

Kirk, in need of conservative credibility and desperately seeking to avoid being Scozzafavaed (a la NY-23), immediately came out against the import of terrorism suspects.  “With the busiest airport in the world and the tallest building in North America, I do not think we should make Chicagoland the center of jihadi attention in the world,” Kirk told the Chicago Tribune.

Among the congressman’s concerns is a misguided fear that thousands of potential terrorists would flock to visit Illinois.  However, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin was quick to rebut Kirk’s alarmist statement, calling it “totally false.”

The Nov. 14 Chicago Tribune report clarified Kirk’s error:

Obama administration officials said the detainee section of the Thomson prison would be run by the Defense Department, which prohibits detainees from receiving visits from anyone other than legal counsel, rather than by the Bureau of Prisons, whose visitation rules were cited by Kirk.

Set aside Kirk’s factual deficiencies for a moment, and consider this:  how much longer must we tolerate irrational predictions of doom upon the closing of Gitmo?  At the heart of Kirk’s argument against the move are the same flawed assumptions, often uttered in the conservative media,  that the American justice system isn’t up to the challenge of incarcerating and prosecuting these individuals.  Fortunately, at least three prominent conservatives have gone on the record stating otherwise.

From TalkingPointsMemo.com, posted Nov. 16, by Christina Bellatoni:

Former Republican Congressman and Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union and Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, have teamed up to urge the Gitmo detainees be taken to the U.S.

Barr, Keen, Norquist, and others take exception to the notion that American prisons and courts aren’t up to the task in a written statement, combined with others as part of The Constitution Project:  a bipartisan effort to “seek consensus solutions to difficult legal and constitutional issues.”  The signatories of this particular statement conclude that moving the prisoners “makes good sense.”

This makes good sense for the taxpayers who have invested millions of dollars in these facilities and who are seeing millions wasted every month at the costly, inefficient Guantanamo facility. It makes sense for the community, which will benefit from the related employment and has absolutely no reason to fear that prisoners will escape or be released into their communities. The scaremongering about these issues should stop.

But most of all it makes sense for America because it is a critical link in the process of closing Guantanamo and getting this country back to using its tried and true, constitutionally sound institutions.

Read the statement in its entirety, HERE (.pdf)

See Also

Leave it to the satirists to put it all in perspective.  On the Nov. 16 broadcast of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, correspondent Samantha Bee explains that perhaps there is something to fear in relocating the Gitmo prisoners:  The Dreaded Media Reaction!

Below clip is the opening segment of the Nov. 16 TDS – exchange between Stewart and Bee is at 5:21/9:58.

Related Care2 Posts

~ 9/11 Terror Trials in New York

~ Investigating Torture: Bush Tactics Harmed U.S. National Security

Related Care2 Action

      ~ Musicians United! Petition to Close Gitmo

Image:  Flickr User - publik15, by way of CreativeCommons.org


Ch Hardy
Past Member 7 years ago

Glenna - yes Alcatraz is on an island but its nowhere new NY - you said NY - its in the San Francisco Bay - far, far away from New York, as your words stated.

I know that suicide bombers dont have to have a reason to do what they do but this could give them a justifiable reason. Anyway - I dont want them in my backyard - I dont understand why we can't leave them where they are - give them their trials - those that need to stay, stay, those that can be set free - set them free back to their own Country. Clean up GITMO - this Admin is so up about making things better but they want to do all new - make what we have better - clean it up - we dont need more bad just better what we have now.

Glenna Jones-kachtik
Glenna Kachtik7 years ago

Cy - yes, I know Alcrataz is on an island. I also know that no one successfully escaped from there and that it was closed down *among other things) because it was isolated.
Those people working at Gitmo are government employees. If the Prisoners there are sent somewhere, they will NOT be among the general prison population and it will be administered by the Defense Dept. so, no it would probably not bring any new jobs.
But, if we refuse to acquiese to their desires to be martyred; if we throw them into prison and let them rot; their comprades might just NOT drop a bomb.
It has been my experience that if a person is going to strap on a bomb, then they are going to do that irregardless of anything else going on. It matters not if these guys are at Gitmo or in Timbucktoo - if there are Muslims who want to die for the cause; they will die for the cause. Whether it is Pro-lifers who bomb abortion clinics or kill doctors in the name of GOD for aborting babies or Fred Phelps believers waving their hateful signs at the funerals of our soldiers or a Muslim with a suicide bomb - they do what they do because of what ever reason they do such things. They rationale their actions and it matters not much if it is GOD or ALLAH, JESUS OR MOHAMMAD - they have lost sight of the GOLDEN RULE; "Do Unto Others as you would have them do unto you." Every religion has this basic rule.
If people are going to kill, they will and moving or not moving these guys won't matter at all.

Ch Hardy
Past Member 7 years ago

Glenna your words "re-open Alcatraz and send them there. It would employ some New Yorkers", lat time I checked Alcatraz was NOT in NY - so I am going to take what you said as a joke and truly hope that is how you meant it....Also you want to shut down Gitmo and all those working there would loose their jobs just to open up another Prizon that has been closed for years to employ others?

Ch Hardy
Past Member 7 years ago

Glenna - those that would strap bombs to themselves are their friends and other terrorists that are already here in the US...

Glenna Jones-kachtik
Glenna Kachtik7 years ago

Craig, I saw a film about the prisoners at Gitmo. If this film was your idea of people being treated better than those in our general prison population - then I would hate to see the general population.
These guys were tortured. Stripped bare, chained to the floor, alternately blasted with cold, light and dark. They were degraded. Music blared into the cells and they were kept awake for 8-10 hours at a time. They were threatened with dogs, thrown against walls and waterboarded.
The last I heard, that didn't happen in a normal prison.
By the way, the last time I checked, Gitmo was on American soil. If you guys are so worried, re-open Alcatraz and send them there. It would employ some New Yorkers....

Glenna Jones-kachtik
Glenna Kachtik7 years ago

Cy Hardy - comeon' do you really think that if these guys are convicted - that they will ever see the light of day again unless it is behind bars? With the mentality of most Americans, these guys will be martyred - just like they wish. They will be killed by the state. I am not sure how a dead person would strap on a bomb and murder everyone.
I trust our prison system. There are guys behind bars - right here in the good ol' USA who have committed atrocious acts of canibalism, rape, & murder. It matters not that they are home grown criminals rather than across the sea 'terrorists' - they have been tried and convicted and are living out their lives behind bars. If we can keep them; what makes you think we can't keep KSM and 4 others??? The first WTC bomber is behind bars in the US. He was not an American, was he? Our own homegrown Tim McVeigh was kept behind bars until he was executed for carrying out the bombing of the Federal Building in OK City. Was he not dangerous? Ted Bundy? Jeffrey Dahmer? All these people were at one time under lock & key. I didn't hear that they escaped, did you?
We are either a nation of laws or we are ruled by mob mentality. It was mob mentality that broke into a jail, kidnapped a prisoner and took him out an hung him because they were not happy with the sentence that was passed down (I think it was in the 30s). I'd rather show the world we were a nation of rules & laws than a mob mentality people.

Sir Walk F.
Sir Walk F7 years ago

Roger, you are really missing the point. This isn't about 'prisoner safety', it's about protecting habeus corpus and the foundation of our Justice system and the right to a fair trail.

the Precedent beign set with Gitmo is a very slippery slope that should frighten anyone who cares about their own rights.

Sir Walk F.
Sir Walk F7 years ago

This is the same sort of crap no matter what Dem is in office. Just imagine if it were Hillary.

Remember how they openly mocked Ron Paul at the Republican Debates for mentioning 'blowback' to foreign policy as a possible reason for 9-11?

Roger H.
.7 years ago

Send some of the detainees who were not caught on the battlefield to Indiana. We've got a couple of good Super max prisons and need the money. There are also several good military prisons in the US where we could send the rest, but they would have to be kept separated from the other prisoners in either case or they probably would be killed by the other prisoners or even some of the guards. All I'm saying is that the military and civilian prison system in this country isn't any safer for them than Cuba and they must be held where they can be monitored for their safety until they are tried and if they are convicted, the same applies. Inmates are abused and die at the hands of other prisoners and guards in our prison system all the time and non of the detainees in Cuba died. So what makes Cuba worse is all the media attention it got and the detainees that were kept there indefinitely without council who are not guilty of any crime. Sort of like all the prisoners that were convicted and later found innocent in our criminal court system by DNA tests. Unfortunately, some of them were put to death before the DNA test results proved them innocent. Others sat on death row for 10 or 20 years before being released. So those of you so vigorously defending our judicial system and prison systems, Know that even the best system in the world isn't without it's faults.

rita b.
Rita B7 years ago

First of all there seems to a presumption on some people's part that everyone at Gitmo is guilty of some crime. Than why have many prisoners already been released? Because there was absolutely no evidence against them. They ended up in Gitmo because our government offered a nice fat reward for turning in "suspected terrorists" Many of these people were held in Gitmo for years and tortored to boot.

Then there are all the Iraqis and our own young men and women who have been killed, maimed exposed to toxic chemicals from our weapons etc in the pointless, brutal war in Iraq.

The worst of the war criminals will never be brought to trail and I am not talking about the prisoners at Gitmo. I am talking about the neocons who planned and pushed this unjust war like Chaney, Rumsfeld, Pearle, Wolfiwitz etc.
As far as all the fear mongering about having them tried in the USA put in prison here, that is the biggest bunch of bunk yet. We have all kinds of home grown terrorist group running around armed to the teeth, not to mention tons of targets like unsafe chemical plants, a financial, military, and energy systems which has been successfully hacked by foreign nationals and info structure and medical system that are falling apart at the seams etc,. Not to mention the steady erosion of all our constitutional rights. But hey, lets worry about somebody escaping from a maximum security prison. This all a great distraction for the public created by those who profit from war.