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Ear to the Ground

Democrats Block Funds to Close Gitmo

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Posted on May 19, 2009
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AP photo / Mary Altaffer

Protesters dressed as prisoners stage a demonstration in Manhattan against the Guantanamo Bay detentions in January 2007.

On Tuesday, even before the Republicans had the chance to do it, Senate Democrats blocked $80 million allocated for the closure of Guantanamo Bay in a supplemental war bill approved by the Appropriations Committee last week. The decision comes as a blow to President Obama, whose plan to shut the base by next January had given him major popularity points. Despite this new funding cut, plans to close the base will move forward.

CNN:

The Senate war supplemental bill, which is scheduled to be voted on this week, included $80 million for the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice to begin the process of shutting down the prison.

Now, that money will be stripped out and replaced with language saying no funds can be used to transfer detainees from Guantanamo, a military installation in Cuba, to the United States and no additional money will be approved until 60 days after the president submits to Congress his plan to close the facility. That language is similar to a provision in the House bill.

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By Marshall, May 21, 2009 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

By ardee, May 21 at 5:46 am #

So it sounds like you support just releasing them all (where, i don’t know).  There is no one in government who supports this position.  So assuming we’re going to be keeping some or all of them, we need a place to put them.  Guantanamo is perfectly suited.

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By MarthaA, May 21, 2009 at 12:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ocjim,

Only Democrats that have been cooperating with the Repugs scatter like roaches.  The people need to register and VOTE all the roach Repug Democrats out of the Democratic Party in the Primary voting next year.

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By ocjim, May 21, 2009 at 9:10 am Link to this comment

What happened to principle in American politics? Democrats scatter like roaches when Repugs turn on the lights of fear.

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By ardee, May 21, 2009 at 2:46 am Link to this comment

Marshall,
You claim to have articulated several good reasons for Gitmo to remain open. I have reviewed each of your efforts here and can find no such defense as you state. You say that these people are not criminals thus cannot be held in a prison. Is this the summation of your argument?

In the face of the knowledge that these people were, in the main, not captured on battlefields, not found with weapons, but were turned in for rewards, were not allowed access to legal assistance, were not allowed to see any evidence against them and many were tortured to varying degrees, what purpose does retention serve?

I would suggest that any impartial review of the “cases” against most of these folks might find that the great majority are being held for no good reason at all. This might make finding a place to “store” the rest a bit easier.

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By Marshall, May 20, 2009 at 11:39 pm Link to this comment

By ardee, May 20 at 6:24 pm #

“So then, Marshall, as you seem to be in favor of retaining these poor sods at Gitmo, perhaps you might grace us with the reasons why.”

Because no compelling reasons to close it, and several good ones not to - some of which i’ve articulated.

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By MarthaA, May 20, 2009 at 8:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Marshall:

I agree with you.  The people at Gitmo are not criminals at all.  Even if they are enemy combatants, enemy combatants are far, far from being criminals, or my brothers would have all been criminals fighting in the United States wars.

Perish the thought that enemy combatants are criminals.

These prisoners could more adequately be called insurgents in an “Overseas Contingency Operation” which isn’t/wasn’t a real war, so probably these prisoners shouldn’t even be called enemy combatants, just combatants against the contingency operation.

It is plain to me that the Republicrats prefer to be Republicans, trying to defeat whatever Obama trys to do; perhaps in the Primary Elections next year, the people will be able to help them with their wish to be Right-Wingers and get them out of the Democratic Party.

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By tahitifp, May 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

OK, here’s the link:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22748.html

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By tahitifp, May 20, 2009 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

Hmm, that was clickable.  Is there a way to turn links blue on this site?  I’ll go get the actual link.

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By tahitifp, May 20, 2009 at 3:41 pm Link to this comment

Ås far as who controls the debate, check this out.  The Blue Dogs and Conservadems might as well be repugs. And Cheney is eating lots of air time.

Obama, Cheney plan dueling speeches

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By tahitifp, May 20, 2009 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment

These people are not criminals, they are enemy combatants - a designation affirmed by Obama - and cannot be matriculated into the U.S. penal system, nor do they fall under Geneva Convention.
*****************
Is there a law about this?  I think there is no precedent for this, so I would think they could be held here.  I heard someone from CA today on CNN that CA would take them.

For goodness sake, we’ve imprisoned mass murderers, cannibals and even some repugs. grin

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By ardee, May 20, 2009 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

So then, Marshall, as you seem to be in favor of retaining these poor sods at Gitmo, perhaps you might grace us with the reasons why.

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By Marshall, May 20, 2009 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

By BruSays, May 20 at 5:28 pm #

You’re oversimplifying the argument.  The issue isn’t just about danger to the population.  These people are not criminals, they are enemy combatants - a designation affirmed by Obama - and cannot be matriculated into the U.S. penal system, nor do they fall under Geneva Convention.  They must be held and treated separately from the U.S. prison population, and for their own safety as well (and btw - prison space in the U.S. is non-existant).

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By BruSays, May 20, 2009 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment

Jesus, America! We have more prisons than any other nation on earth. We have more prisoners (both as a percentage of population and in total numbers) than any nation on earth - including China, with its 1.3 BILLION people. There are 246 detainees (not convicted terrorists) at Gitmo. We already have over 7 MILLION people in our jails right here at home in our back yards. Fully 25% of the worlds prisoners are in the U.S. and yet we’re worried about 246 detainees? Get a grip.

If there exists another country more practiced in the incarceration of child rapists, serial killers, and blood-thirsty sickos than ours, I haven’t heard of it.

Once again, Republicans are playing on our fears and not on the realities. And once again, weak-kneed Democrats are playing along…too scared to confront those fears because of yet another fear: not getting re-elected.

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By ardee, May 20, 2009 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment

Marshall

And i love the way repubs are so powerful in your mind that they even control the decision making of Dems (at least the decisions you disagree with).  You are a true conspiracy believer to the core!
................................

Cheap shot artists need not apply.

The fact of the matter is that the GOP has controlled the debate, controlled the Congress and controlled the public relations for a very long time. Whether in the majority, when Democrats either sat on their hands and said nothing or wholeheartedly supported the GOP agenda, or in the minority by threatening filibuster or manufacturing an issue out of whole cloth like the current Pelosi brouhaha, the Republicans seem to be in charge everywhere but the voting booth ( ironic heh?).

Just as in the case of of these detainees, whose destination is yet ten months in the offing, the GOP makes an issue out of the threat of said prisoners moving into your neighborhood. Obama has a number of months left to find prisons, or to send them back to their respective nations, or to do any number of alternatives depending upon whether or not these folks are even dangerous. Yet a bill gets vetoed because the President’s own party has no clue or is bullied by the other side of the aisle.

Conspiracy theories or history?

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By Marshall, May 20, 2009 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

By ardee, May 20 at 6:12 am #

Ardee - Obama (and Congress) aren’t questioning the detention of the prisoners, he’s simply failed to find a destination for them and likely won’t since no country including the U.S.-proper wants them.  So yes, their detention is a defensible position.

And i love the way repubs are so powerful in your mind that they even control the decision making of Dems (at least the decisions you disagree with).  You are a true conspiracy believer to the core!

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photoshock's avatar

By photoshock, May 20, 2009 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

For all the bluster and wind regarding the ‘torture’ issue and the idea that America is a country of the rule of law, the Senate Republicrats, have chosen a path of least resistance to the Grand Orgy Party, that will inevitably lead to the destruction of the ethical and moral leadership of America.
The Democrats made it a point to condemn the idea of indefinite internment in prison, yet here we are 6 months later and the leaders of the Republicratic Party have chosen to keep the abominable and atrocious Guantanamo Bay prison open for the sake of racist and clearly prejudicial ideas open.
Our country will not stand much more of this type of these two-faced lying bastards, running our country and its reputation into the ground. We the people, must take back the reins of government and put right what the politcrats, i.e. professional politicians, have done wrong and which actions are against international conventions.
People, we need to wake up, there is no salvation in governmental action!  We are the government, not the politicrats that are trying to ruin this country!
We must revolt against regimes that are illegal and act unethically! There is no chance that Obama will keep his promises, other than the ones he made to the moneyed elite and their cohorts.

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By ardee, May 20, 2009 at 4:51 am Link to this comment

dihey, May 20 at 7:46 am #

I would be very interested in reading said articles…Have you any links?

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By dihey, May 20, 2009 at 4:46 am Link to this comment

During my recent stay in Germany, the German papers asked a pertinent question, namely: “why should we accept former Guantanamo detainees in our country if you Americans who created this shit in the first place are not willing to accept even one”?
The German public probably intoned en masse “amen”.

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By ardee, May 20, 2009 at 3:12 am Link to this comment

Marshall, May 20 at 2:34 am #

Most commenters here seem to be supporting the closure of Gitmo without first figuring out where the detainees go.  Is this really a defensible position?

.......

Marshall, might I ask if you believe that holding people whose links to terrorism are largely unknown, prisoners who have been held without trial or legal council for up to seven years now, is a defensible position?

Further, it was Democrats who blocked this legislation, despite the fact that the Executive has eight months to come up with a destination for these people. Could they not have passed the bill conditional upon such a plan being forthcoming? That might have saved face for the President and his Party both.

I would say that the Democrats are being led by the nose by the Republican minority, but that is just business as usual it appears.

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By Marshall, May 19, 2009 at 11:34 pm Link to this comment

Most commenters here seem to be supporting the closure of Gitmo without first figuring out where the detainees go.  Is this really a defensible position?

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By Jean Gerard, May 19, 2009 at 9:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Before this “not in my backyard” hysteria gets going, let’s be reasonable for a change.  How many prisoners are we talking about?  How many of them have we no solid evidence against?  How many of them are held because of hearsay?  How many of them can safely be returned to their country?  How many of them are sick and need medical attention?  How many need to have a fair trial here, or somewhere?  How many can show credible evidence that, if released, they can find someone to take them in and help them readjust?  How many have a viable case against us and should be allowed to remain and sue for compensatioin?  How many can be proven so dangerous that they need to be tried, and if proven guilty, remain confined indefinitely someplace?  These are all more or less sticky questions—but we got ourselves into this mess, remember.

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By Mary Ann McNeely, May 19, 2009 at 7:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s not a blow to Obama.  He never wanted to close Guantanamo at all.  He just said so and now the congressional blue dogs, yellow dogs and running dogs can take the heat.

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By mill, May 19, 2009 at 5:57 pm Link to this comment

It is disappointing that some Democrats are trying to out-demagogue the republicans on what to do with prisoners in the control of our federal government.

The republicans are neanderthal enough ... must Democrats stoop to such stupid political posturing?

The guy in the White House is one of theirs?  Are they REALLY this brain-dead?!?

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By BruSays, May 19, 2009 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

I’d agree with NYCartist…more has to unofold, more has to be seen before making a fair judgement. But this much I can say:

1. These are not CONVICTED terrorists. We can say “likely” or we can say “alleged” or we can call them “dangerous” but they’ve not been tried and convicted of any crime. So let’s not let either party label them “terrorists.” My bet is that there are still plenty who were either at the wrong place at the wrong time or who were innocents “outed” by neighbors eager to earn the reward.

2. Republicans have NOT been more effective at establishing policy or writing law. As a party, they’ve been effective obstructionists - and far better at that than the spineless Dems ever were under Bush. I think the public knows the difference - hence their continued march away from the Republicans.

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By NYCartist, May 19, 2009 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment

I need to see more on this story, as it develops.  For now, I can say this: who needs Republicans, when the Dems do it all for them?  If the quote is true, re a “we won’t give them a wedge issue”, the Dem leaders are jerks, and I’m being kind.  For a minority party, the Republicans have been more effective than the Dems were as a minority party.  But then, so many Dems are like Repubs.  As to the “Obama’s dream to close Guantanamo”, I have to laugh.  That’s one more thing that makes the story odd.  What dream?  He’s been flip flopping all over the human rights/Constitution restoration, as President.  Did you ever look at CNN’s home page online?  It’s hard for me to take them seriously.

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