Feinstein: No more transfers from Gitmo to Yemen
posted at 10:55 am on December 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
This is the sound of Barack Obama’s policy of closing Guantanamo Bay coming to a screeching halt:
The senior Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee wants no more Guantanamo Bay detainees released to Yemen in the wake of a Christmas day terrorist attack hatched in that country.
“Guantanamo detainees should not be released to Yemen at this time,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “It is too unstable.” …
Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) on Tuesday sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to halt the transfer of six Guantanamo detainees to Yemen given the danger they realize that country now poses.
Obama could afford to ignore McCain, and perhaps Lieberman as well. He can’t afford to ignore Feinstein. While she trends more hawkish than many of her Democratic colleagues in the Senate, she doesn’t have the same kind of gadfly status of Lieberman or even Ben Nelson. She’s no Scoop Jackson, which makes this statement even more compelling, and even more problematic for Obama.
This is simply common sense — and it was common sense before Umar Abdulmutallab ever boarded a plane for Amsterdam, Detroit, or even Yemen. The US has known of the rise of al-Qaeda in Yemen for the past few years. The Yemeni government has done little to stem it, either through a lack of means or a lack of will, and the difference between the two matters little for practical purposes. If the Saudi terrorist-rehab program has been a flop, its Yemeni counterpart has been demonstrably worse. Even when Yemen imprisons AQ operatives, they routinely escape and rejoin their radical-Islamist comrades.
Given the open recidivism of those already released to Yemen, no good case can be made that continuing the catch-and-release program in Yemen bolsters American security in any way. Only if we radio-tagged the Gitmo detainees before setting them loose in Yemen would that be true. The push to release these hardened terrorists from a secure facility fulfills only political considerations, not security issues, and those should be secondary at best. Thankfully, no one lost their life in last week’s reminder of those priorities.
Update: Allahpundit shot this over to me after I finished writing the post:
A senior Obama administration official pushed back against critics of the White House’s plans to transfer some detainees at Guantanamo Bay to Yemen as it moves toward closing the facility, saying the process for transfers are “consistent with our national security interests.”
The fresh criticism, including a letter from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) calling on President Obama to halt the transfers of any detainees to Yemen, comes after reports of links between the country and the attempted Christmas Day terrorist attack.
“I am aware of a lot of people pointing back at the way the transfers were handled under the Bush administration that apparently they have some concerns about that,” said the official, who had not seen the senators’ letter. “I didn’t hear many of those concerns at the time, but there were obviously hundreds and hundreds of detainees that were transferred under the old regime.”
Regime? We don’t have regimes in the US — or we didn’t until now. Is the Obama White House comfortable with calling themselves the present “regime”?
And for the record, some of us had serious misgivings about sending Gitmo detainees to Yemen. In fact, some of us were warning about it as far back as 2005. Maybe Obama was too busy running for his next office to notice.