Break Out

by digby

The press seems to be taking this action to deny funding for the closing of Guantanamo at face value as a sign of congress flexing its muscle at the white house. That's ridiculous. It seems obvious that they are giving cover to the administration, which simply doesn't know how to handle this Gitmo hissy fit and want's to kick the issue down the road. (I'm not sure why they think it will be any easier later, but perhaps they know they are going to punt and just want to keep the coalition from splintering before they get anything substantial done on health care.) Harry Reid's confused comments from yesterday only underscore for me that he was following some script that he hadn't fully memorized. The Democrats are not "breaking with" the president.

Obviously, this argument that we can't allow suspected terrorists to come into our communities and kill us all in our beds is beyond stupid (unless you actually believes these prisoners have supernatural powers as the racist rightwing pantwetters seemed to believe.) America has no shortage of dangerous killers and psychopaths locked up in its prisons and we seem to be able to handle them just fine.

I recently heard one of the Republican strategists argue that we couldn't allow these prisoners to be housed in America because it would provoke terrorists to try to break them out (kind of a Butch and Sundance thing, I guess.) But, if Americans can't break their own gang members out of maximum security prisons, it's hard to imagine that some roving jihadis could do any better.

Prisons are what we do. We have more people locked up that any other nation on earth. It's one of our biggest industries. We may be bad at everything else, but locking people up we are really,really good at. The idea that we can't keep a few broken, foreign, torture victims in jail is patently absurd. If you don't believe that the government is capable of protecting a prison from attack by foreign terrorists, anyone who lives near a nuclear power plant should be completely petrified. Talk about a target.

Look, this is just one more example of the politics of national security trumping actual national security. Logic says that Guantanamo could be closed today and these prisoners could be brought tomorrow to military brigs around the country if not maximum security prisons we have by the dozens. The rest of the world would see Obama fulfilling his clear and unambiguous promise to close it (a promise he shared with his Republican rival, btw) and would gain tremendous credibility around the world for doing so. But the Republicans have the Democrats running scared on national security again and that's the end of that.

Let's not pretend there's really a "debate" going on here. The Democrats are more scared of Republicans than they are of terrorists or anything else and that's what's driving this.

Update: dday has more on this.