Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Profiles in courage, circa 2009

In a stirring display of utter fecklessness, Senate Democrats yesterday announced that they are, at least for now, refusing to fund the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
Senate Democrats said they still backed Mr. Obama’s decision to close the prison. But lawmakers have not exactly been eager to accept detainees in their home states. When the tiny town of Hardin, Mont., offered to put the terrorism suspects in its empty jail, Montana’s senators, both Democrats, and its representative, a Republican, quickly voiced opposition.

Administration officials have indicated that if the Guantánamo camp closes as scheduled more than 100 prisoners may need to be moved to the United States, including 50 to 100 who have been described as too dangerous to release.

Of the 240 detainees, 30 have been cleared for release. Some are likely to be transferred to foreign countries, though other governments have been reluctant to take them. Britain and France have each accepted one former detainee. And while as many as 80 of the detainees will be prosecuted, it remains unclear what will happen to those who are convicted and sentenced to prison.
Many of these same Democrats have spent the last seven years criticizing the Bush administration's operation of the detention facility. Now when the time has come to make the hard choice about providing a secure facility in the U.S., they tuck their tails and run.

A new, empty, jail in an economically distressed part of Montana has offered to take the prisoners. This or another facility could be made suitable in short order--that is, if Democrats restore the funds.