By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
U.S. Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., is up in arms over the pending closure of the U.S.-run detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
What has him particularly concerned, he says, is that the Obama administration has failed to develop a concrete plan for the transfer of the facility's 241 remaining detainees to a secure location. According to him, 60 of the current Guantanamo detainees "are being held because no country will accept them or because there are concerns about their safety should they return home." This includes alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as well as four other defendants suspected of involvement in the attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
"Detainees physically present in the United States could apply for asylum and legal permanent residency," Shadegg warns in a letter to his congressional colleagues. "If no other country will accept them, where else could they possibly go?"
To further reinforce the idea that they are a potential threat, Shadegg also points out that at least 61 people once detained at Guantanamo Bay--and then released--were again caught engaging in terrorist activities. To address the issue, to prevent any of them from permanently resettling here, which Shadegg calls "an unnecessary threat to the American people," the Arizona Republican is introducing legislation, H.R. 1238, to prohibit any of the Guantanamo Bay detainees from entering the United States, including for purposes of obtaining political asylum.
On it's face, it's a simple enough proposal, one that would probably pass easily if it ever came up for a vote, something House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are not likely to let happen. But it also underscores what is beginning to look like a "slap dash" approach to the issue by the Obama administration.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano wants to refer to terrorism as "man caused disasters" in what she admits is a deliberate effort to change the tone. And the White House now says "Global War on Terror" is out; "Overseas Contingency Operations" are in--as was discussed at length when they first made the change. But when compared with the very real concerns that people like Rep. Shadegg raise, the administration's neo-Orwellian focus on changing the verbiage hovers somewhere between the ridiculous and the criminal.
It is hard to take seriously the idea that America is protected from a global terrorist threat, which events over the last eight years have shown to be all too real, when very real issues like what we do with the people we have already caught in terrorist plots we have uncovered, one way or another, appear to be less important than the need to soften the language. And it is this kind of potential miscalculation that the White House undertakes at its own peril. One slip, and the whole thing could come down like a house of cards in a wind storm.
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