Keep Gitmo Open

House Dems vote to bring Gitmo detainees into U.S. (63 Dems switched)

Yesterday, 223 House Democrats (and Ron Paul) voted down a motion to recommit H.R. 2892. In effect, they voted:

1) to bring Guantanamo al Qaeda detainees into the U.S. and 2) to delete this additional requirement: “the Secretary of Homeland Security shall conduct a threat assessment for each such individual who is proposed to be transferred to the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, or the United States Territories.”

President Barack Obama and his administration applauded the House vote:

The Obama White House hailed a House vote Thursday to defeat a GOP-led effort to block the transfer of any Guantanamo Bay detainee to US soil — even for prosecution. “This was the most important legislative vote out there and it gives us a sense of victory,” said a senior administration official close to White House deliberations on closing the detention facility.

(Victory? Hurray! President Obama finally knows how to define victory.)

“It give [sic] us the fundamental ability to close down Guantanamo,” the official said. “And on the political side of it at least we’ve stabilized and we’ re dealing with the hysteria we dealt with this spring.” But the White House was not so celebratory as to release a formal statement praising the House vote. Another top White House aide said it’s too early to draw attention to Guantanamo policy because variables dealing with security, detention and trial of suspected terrorists remain unsettled. “We don’t want to be spiking the football on the 20 yard line,” the aide said. “We still have a ways to go.”

The House voted 224-193 to allow detainees to moved to the US for trial. The vote came on a amendment to the $42.8 billion Homeland Security spending bill. That overall bill passed 307-114 and now moves to the Senate, where swift passage is expected. Obama could sign the bill as early as next week.

In fact, a non-binding vote to that effect on Oct. 1 temporarily scuttled the Homeland Security spending bill. In that vote, 88 Democrats broke ranks and sided with Republicans who pushed the measure to derail Obama’s attempt to close Guantanamo. Today, 63 Democrats switched sides, clearing the way for the Homeland Security spending bill. … [also read this]

Who exactly are the Democrats who likely used their previous vote to tout to their constituents that they are “tough on terror?”

9-11 families pressure Obama to keep Guantanamo prison open

Writing for the McClatchy Newspapers, Carol Rosenberg further reports on the reactions of 9/11 family members who this past week observed the Military Commission hearings of high-value al Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo:

Heartbroken survivors of the 9-11 attacks have emerged as a key constituency in the campaign to stop Obama from making good on his Jan. 22 executive order to empty the prison camps and revise the controversial military trials within a year.

Obama argued that Guantanamo has become an anti-American recruiting tool in the arsenal of al-Qaida. Moreover, he said military commissions designed in the Bush years lacked fundamental U.S. guarantees of due process and were at odds with American values.

“There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world,” he said in a May 21 address to the nation on terrorism policy. “Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al-Qaida that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law.”

But, three times stretching back to the candidacies of Obama and Sen. John McCain, who each pledged to “close Guantanamo,” the Pentagon has brought parents, siblings and children of 9-11 victims to watch the attack’s alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and co-conspirators defend themselves at a court designed by Bush administration officials to mete out military justice.

Three times, the court watchers described the antics of the confessed al-Qaida acolytes as making a mockery of American justice.

And three times, they held news conferences urging the White House to keep the prison camps open and war court here intact as the speediest, safest way to close the books on the former CIA-held captives accused of mass murder in the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

“I did not come with a vengeful heart,” said Pompano Beach, Fla., mother Janet Roy, whose firefighter brother, William Burke, died saving others at the World Trade Center. “I came to see for myself … I know the right thing is being done here, in a carefully thought-out manner.”

Theirs is a powerful and emotional message from a sampling of victims’ kin, chosen by lottery, escorted to this base gingerly and with sensitivity to the families of the 2,974 people killed in al-Qaida’s coordinated hijackings that sent planes plunging into the Pentagon, Twin Towers and a Pennsylvania field.

READ THE REST, keep Gitmo open, and keep al Qaeda’s killers out the United States and our federal court system.