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February 25, 2016 10:53 AM UTC

Gardner Takes Neato Gitmo Field Trip

  • 16 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols
Sen. Cory Gardner in his tropical uniform.
Sen. Cory Gardner in his tropical uniform.

As the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports, Colorado’s junior Sen. Cory Gardner is taking a taxpayer-funded junket to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to “see for himself” how the remaining 91-some odd detainees left in legal limbo there are getting on:

U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Jerry Moran — two ardent critics of the White House’s drive to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay — are preparing in the coming days to visit the U.S. military base in Cuba…

One reason the two GOP legislators are opposed to administration efforts to move Guantanamo Bay detainees to the U.S. is that sites in Colorado and Kansas have been mentioned as places where the detainees could ultimately wind up.

“Transferring detainees to the U.S. is illegal, and it’s rejected by Coloradans, top Colorado law enforcement officials, and Americans across the country,” Gardner said Tuesday in a statement.

Sen. Gardner’s opposition to moving Guantanamo Bay detainees to American prisons for eventual trial or release has been intractable for years–he’s been dooming and glooming the possibility since 2009, after all, when he originally warned as a state representative of a “pipeline of terror from Kabul to Colorado” if Gitmo detainees were moved here. It’s tough to imagine what exactly he will learn from his junket to Guantanamo Bay, but it’s a nice way to break up the winter blues.

Support in Colorado for President Barack Obama’s latest proposal to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay is complicated by the more nuanced opposition to transferring Gitmo detainees to Colorado by Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. Bennet’s stated position is that he supports closure of the detention center, but Colorado has no suitable facility to hold what are properly considered military detainees. Unfortunately, the difference in Bennet’s position has gone more or less undifferentiated in news reporting, and as a result doesn’t do much to rally Democratic base supporters inclined to support the President.

Overall, the politics of closing Gitmo and resolving the status of the remaining detainees do not appear conducive to success for the administration, but as a major campaign promise from early in Obama’s campaigns he was obliged to try once more. There’s little question that Gitmo’s detention center will close someday, and with it a deeply controversial chapter in American history will end.

Just not in this election year, folks.

Comments

16 thoughts on “Gardner Takes Neato Gitmo Field Trip

    1. I agree. I can't either. There are 91 prisoners left in GITMO and apparently Senator Gardner is afraid of them. His excuse that incarcerating them on the mainland will make the United States a target for terrorist attacks is incredibly lame. We already are a target for ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups. Housing the GITMO prisoners on our soil won't make us more or less of a target. Apparently, based on his logic, if we announced the prisoners will remain at GITMO, the United States will be taken off ISIS' target list. 

      This is just more of the same conscious obstruction by Republicans. If President Obama supports anything, they are immediately unalterably opposed to it. They refuse to govern and therefore refuse to fulfill their duties. 

      Perhaps Senator Franken (D-Minnesota) was right yesterday when he suggested, using Majority Leader McConnell's logic, that the thirty-four senators up for reelection this year should not be allowed to vote on legislation because they are in their last year of office and obviously we want the voters to determine who gets to vote on the pending legislation before the U.S. Senate. Since those thirty-four, like President Obama, are lame ducks, they shouldn't be voting on legislation. Of course twenty-four of the thirty-four are Republicans and, if they couldn't vote, Harry Reid would be majority leader again. I wonder if Sen. McConnell agrees. I can't imagine he wouldn't.

  1. I's hard to argue for the Gitmo v regular US justice system in terms of success. No one has been convicted of anything out of Gitmo, never can be as evidence compromised by torture is inadmissable in any US court, military or civilian. Most detainees have been relased, more under GW than under Obama, some of them (I'd bet incuding some who were dragged in for being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong local bounty hungry enemies) now fighting against our interests, whatever we've decided those are anymore.

    Meanwhile those terrorists arrested with plenty of solid evidence and tried in the boring old US justice system have been convicted, incarcerated, no escapes, no related acts of terrorism in the communities where they're being held, smooth as glass.

    What's not to like?

  2. Bennet did state:

    I've repeatedly said I do not support the transfer of prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military facility to Colorado. I've voted to close the prison, but I believe military detainees should be held in military prisons. Colorado does not have that type of facility. This plan has done nothing to change my mind. These detainees should not be transferred to Colorado."

    The problem is that Bennet, in that same statement, also noted his votes to kill funding for shutting down Guantanamo, to prevent any transfer of detainees to the United States, and to bar any transfer of a detainee unless the president can certify that release poses no threat to any US military personnel or their families.  So Bennet supports closing Guantanamo as long as it doesn't require money, doesn't involve bringing a detainee into the US, and that detainee could never be a threat.

    Moving detainees to another military facility outside the United States, just makes that new facility Guantanamo all over again.  His position is a distinction without a difference.

      1. I'm fine with that notion, although I disagree with his choice.  I'm just suggesting we not pretend here that it's somehow significantly different from the positions of the Rs that are winning races in that purple state.

        1. No NIMBY distinction but some subtle distinction that leaves doors open to tweaked solutions and plenty of distinction on other important issues. And frankly, whatever it takes to keep that seat Dem is a OK with me. As Obama said when questioned the other day about some Dem Senators now criticizing Rs for vowing not to even give a hearing to a Supreme Court nominee in his last year but who were expressing much the same thing when the shoe was on the other foot….."Senators say a lot of stuff".

          I don't find this disillusioning because I don't idealize pols in the first place. Never considered Obama to be my perfect kinight in shning armor, never got those who considered DLC Chair Romanoff to be some shining progressive champion and don't see Bernie or any other pol in that light either.  I see them as better or worse on issues that are important to me and more or less likely to deliver on what I consider steps in the better direction.

  3. Maybe we could modernize Fort Jefferson, which held some of the convicts of the Lincoln assassination. It's part of Dry Tortugas National Park these days; masonry might need a bit of an update to be useful as a prison again…

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