Chalk up another victory for Islamic terrorists and give the credit for this battle won where it belongs: Colorado politicians.
In an exemplary show of craven populism, fear-mongering, hypocrisy and short-sightedness, Gov. John Hickenlooper Tuesday joined the embarrassing crowd of NIMBYs desperate to avoid the international blight at Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba.
Hickenlooper, in sad company with Sen. Cory Gardner and even the usually level-headed Sen. Michael Bennet, turned against the non-plan being floated by President Barack Obama to close the horrific blot on America’s human-rights record. Hick said he, too, does not want Guantanamo prisoners sent to Canon City super-prisons. He said he opposes what is so far a pretty unlikely and totally theoretical move because folks in Cañon City don’t want it to happen.
Oh, please. Let’s start with Gardner and other shrill GOP members of the Senate who are the ones leading the opposition to a potential move of prisoners to Cañon City or somewhere else. When the controversy started, Canon City folks shrugged their shoulders and pointed out that this has been the home of Supermax and a long list of international terrorists and the country’s worst bad guys for decades. They weren’t afraid of squat before Gardner took this on as the latest partisan wedge issue and drove it deep into the Florence community.
Colorado’s junior senator was joined by a populist bandwagon brigade made up of congressmen Scott Tipton, Ken Buck, Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn, those famous war hawks who now fashion themselves after more skittish backyard birds when it comes to taking care of the mess we’ve created at Guantanamo Bay.
And then along comes Bennet, a Democrat. He’s the target of the biggest-ever field of GOP candidates drooling over his Senate chair. I lost count at 13 Republicans who want a piece of him. Bennet stood firm in the past to close that damned prison because it’s one of this country’s greatest shames, an arguable marketing point for ISIS and similar anti-American terrorist goons. He opposed it, just like GOP Sen. John McCain, because it’s the antithesis of all that is American and a genuine danger to American troops here and abroad.
The political winds could blow trouble Bennet’s way if he backed Obama on landing Gitmo detainees in Colorado, which he doesn’t. Since 2009, he’s said Colorado prisons are the wrong place to put the badass criminal types, who actually already live there. The right place, he says, is a military prison, which Colorado conveniently doesn’t have.
So now Hickenlooper has climbed on the populist bandwagon, saying he won’t support issues that communities don’t want in their backyard. Oh? Like fracking? Beyond the industry’s hired guns themselves, Hickenlooper is the chief force behind preventing communities from controlling that backyard political mess.
The fear itself is irrational. Are they afraid these prisoners are going to escape, El Chapo-style, with a mile-long underground railroad under the prison? Do they think that a handful of already forgotten suspected marauders would be a far more attractive target for terrorists than say, subways in New York City or LAX? There are more people at any one time in a metro-area Walmart than you could ever find in one place in Cañon City at the same time.
The entire argument is nothing but an effective distraction from the fact that our little cesspool on Guantanamo Bay is a giant human rights violation, the very kind of thing we bang skulls for in places like China, North Korea, Iran and a growing list of other places ranging from unpleasant to unbearable.
It’s all a distraction from the fact that we have rounded up hundreds of people that military officials suspect are terrorists or enemies of the United States and locked them up for what, forever? Who knows? Although there were once more than 600 prisoners there, about 90 still remain. After almost 15 years, they haven’t been charged with anything. They haven’t been to court. They have been afforded less justice than suspects held in the darkest dungeon in Soviet Russia.
It doesn’t matter where these prisoners ultimately go, or if they stay, legally, in Cuba. They must be afforded due process. They must be charged, allowed to face their accusers and present a defense. If they’re guilty, they’re guilty. They have to be sentenced to prison or even death along the lines of how the United States has sentenced similar criminals. And when their sentence has been fulfilled, they must be released. That’s it. We have no choice — unless we want to disregard several hundreds years of human rights law that culminated in the creation of the United States.
Bennet has at least offered up an alternative to housing these prisoners in super-secure prisons in Colorado and across the country, even as implausible as it is. Why put these “detainees” in military prisons? They’re not members of the U.S. military, which is who lives in those facilities. But Gardner, and a long list of both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and the House, are all about what Obama can’t do, but nobody’s offering up a way to restore America’s besmirched honor and reputation.
They just don’t care enough to do anything. That kind of arrogance is far more dangerous to Americans all over the country and the world than housing a handful of bad guys in Florence. Our blatant human rights violations against these detained despicable terrorists will continue to incite the kind of violence that killed 14 people in San Bernardino last year.
These elected officials see the Guantanamo morass as a political problem and not a military, diplomatic and human rights debacle. We made this mess. It makes no sense to bang the drum for a war against ISIS and other heinous terrorists across the globe and then hand them the weapon for our own undoing.
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