If there was any doubt that Republicans in Congress will oppose this year’s push from President Obama to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) speech Wednesday to the Heritage Foundation ought to have laid it to rest. In the course of a half hour’s worth of invective against the administration’s counterterrorism policies, the Senate minority leader pledged to block funding for any efforts at giving terrorism detainees trials in civilian courts. But he held out a special reverence for the much-vilified locus for military commissions and indefinite detention. “Thankfully, Gitmo is still open for business,” McConnell said.
McConnell then turned, briefly, to an argument that is starting to be shared by McConnell’s typical political enemies — and which could seriously complicate the administration’s plans for the final closure of Guantanamo Bay. If Obama simply moves the military commissions and indefinite detentions featured at Guantanamo to a new detention facility in Thomson, Ill. — as the administration currently plans –then there is “no doubt” that al-Qaeda will use Thomson “for the same recruiting and propaganda purposes” it’s used toward Guantanamo, McConnell said, a prospect that “eliminates the administration’s only justification for closing Guantanamo.”
With reluctance, many in the civil-liberties community think McConnell has a point. They have no patience for McConnell’s argument that terrorism detainees should not receive civilian trials. But the administration’s plan to close Guantanamo, from their perspective, merely transfers its most offensive practices to the middle of Illinois. In what they see as a tragic irony, the cohort that led the charge during the Bush administration to shutter the Guantanamo facility is increasingly vocal in opposing Obama’s already-imperiled path to shutting it down.
Full story: Civil Libertarians Reject Obama’s Guantanamo Closure Plan – The Washington Independent