May 22, 2009


War On Terror: Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell says closing the terrorist prison camp at Guantanamo would “make Americans less safe.” He’s right, but Republicans need to sharpen the point to win this key battle.

GOP opposition has put Democrats on the defensive, and the Obama administration so far is not budging from its promise to close Gitmo by the first of next year. The defense secretary says up to 100 detainees may be transferred to U.S. jails. And the attorney general wants to free and resettle at least 17 of them in the Washington suburbs.

Yes, Democrats now say they’ll deny funding for the closing, but it’s just a tactical retreat until the White House can come back with a plan to close the camp and satisfy that there are adequate safeguards.

Shuttering Gitmo by January 2010 was one of first executive orders President Obama signed. Democrats would be loath to hand him such a humiliating defeat. It would be a slap to not only the new commander-in-chief but all the antiwar liberals who voted for him.

Their arguments for bringing Gitmo prisoners here do not withstand serious analysis. Among the standouts:

1. They’d be treated more humanely.

First of all, the remaining 240 detainees are the worst of the worst — nobody wants them, not even the Saudis — and they include five of the 9/11 planners. But if human rights is the issue, they’d actually be treated better down in Cuba, where they enjoy accommodations few, if any, jailhouses would offer.

These include classes in English and other subjects, including art.

2. They won’t escape.

“Our prisons are filled with dangerous people, including terrorists,” argues Sen. Dick Durbin. “And not a single one has escaped.” But they have escaped from our high-security prison in Bagram — and one even tried to shoot her way out. So that danger is real.

None, however, has escaped from our highly controlled military fortress on that isolated island in Guantanamo Bay. And it’s a 90-mile swim to our closest shore if one did.

Also, al-Qaida’s leaders have exhorted followers to free “the brothers” in American custody. They often mention the Blind Sheik by name. He’s in Supermax, so he can look forward to rotting there.

But the proposed jailhouse in Alexandria, Va., is not Supermax, or equipped to handle multiple high-risk prisoners or an outside attack from terrorists. Al-Qaida has pulled off more than one jailbreak in Yemen, for example.

3. They deserve a fair trial.

This is a favorite argument of Rep. Jim Moran. But any public proceedings would turn into show trials and play right into al-Qaida’s political agenda. Moran is literally begging the administration to dump the terrorists in his Northern Virginia district, and nobody can figure out why. It’s simple: He’s the second-largest recipient of Arab-American PAC money in Congress.

And his constituents are predominantly Muslims who’ve come out in mass support of al-Qaida terrorists previously held and tried at the federal courthouse in Alexandria. If past trials are any predictor, Moran’s constituents might rally in support of Gitmo defendants. This would only supply the political platform they desire to rub salt into the wound of 9/11. No thanks.

4. It’s OK to release “innocent” Uighurs in the U.S.; their beef is with the Chinese, so they’re not a threat.

At least 60 other detainees who also swore they were “innocent” goatherds caught in the “wrong place at the wrong time” in Afghanistan have rejoined the jihad — and some have already carried out terrorist acts against U.S. targets like the embassy in Yemen.

Why risk releasing 17 more of them in, of all places, Moran’s district, in the shadow of the capital, where they can simply melt into the local Muslim population out of view of law enforcement?

We’re just asking for trouble.


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