Deal to close Gitmo nigh?

posted at 10:55 am on March 19, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

While the health-care debate rages on into the weekend, the national-security debate over Guantanamo Bay and military commissions has quietly moved towards a denouement — one that would end up with terrorists housed in Illinois.  Sen. Lindsey Graham has reached some agreement with the Obama administration to end civilian trials for most terrorists captured abroad in exchange for buying the Thomson, IL prison and converting it to a maximum-security facility complete with military courthouse:

The White House is nearing a deal with a bipartisan group of senators to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and pave the way for more detainees to be tried before military commissions, a move that would reverse a signature Obama administration security policy.

The deal would put the alleged mastermind of the attacks of September 2001, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, his fellow plotters and other top terror suspects before revamped military commissions, rather than in civilian trials as the Obama administration had sought. These courts would offer defendants more rights than they had under the Bush administration, but fewer than they would be afforded in civilian court. …

The framework of the deal is being led in Congress by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Mr. Graham wants civilian courts to be reserved for low-level Al Qaeda operatives and terrorist financiers, a far smaller group than previously considered.

Forty-eight Guantanamo prisoners—men who cannot be convicted in court but deemed too dangerous for release—would face indefinite detention without trial. Democrats are willing to expand the number of detainees brought before military commissions, but want more discretion than in Mr. Graham’s proposal. …

In exchange for the concessions on civilian trials from Democrats, Mr. Graham will help secure funding to purchase a little-used prison in Thomson, Ill., and refurbish it as a federal maximum-security facility with a military courthouse. Senate Democratic aides say Mr. Graham believes two other Republicans are willing to join the compromise, but they would not say who.

Andy McCarthy is livid at the trade, which he insists isn’t necessary:

There’s not much more I can say beyond what I’ve already said (see here and here) about what a disaster this will be for our national security. Senator Graham will try to spin it as a great result — just as the Gang of 14 compromise was spun, despite its acquiescence in the Left’s torpedoing of several qualified Bush nominees, leaving unfilled slots that Obama is now filling with his kind of judges. It will be a terrible result.

The good parts of the deal will be either things we’d have gotten anyway (like no civilian trial for KSM) or unenforceable (like promises that the Obama administration will be more open to using options other than the criminal justice system for top terrorists). The bad parts will be horrific, and no matter what Senator Graham says, he can’t do a thing about them: The place or places where the terrorists are held will become targets that we will have to spend tons of money to protect; the tons of money we have already spent to make Gitmo a first-rate, ideally secured facility, will be lost; and, most significantly, the physical presence in the U.S. of the detainees will mean they are unquestionably in the jurisdiction of the federal courts, where judges will be able to say the Constitution requires all sorts of remedies, including release.

And remember, all of this will be based on the fiction that Gitmo foments anti-U.S. terrorism — and to the extent the U.S. reputation in the world has been tarnished, much more of that has been done by the politicians who’ve attacked Gitmo than by the facility itself, which is a model.

The idea of trying terrorists captured abroad in federal court died a painful death this year, helped in no small part by the bungling of the EunuchBomber case both before and after his capture.  A majority of Americans opposed the effort, and when local and state officials began to reflect that with their strong objections, the White House had little choice but to retreat from their earlier decision.  The time for that part of the trade was probably last year; Sen. Graham is about half a year too late, but just doesn’t know it.  The likelihood of trying others such as KSM in a federal court is very low indeed.

Why should we pay hundreds of millions of dollars to build the facility in Thomson?  It will have the very same kind of military commission courtroom as we built in Gitmo, for the very same purpose.  It will use the very same military commission system that Congress authorized three times, one that Graham insists will work and even the Obama administration agreed to use in several cases — and that can be conducted in Gitmo, too.  The processes and resources available to detainees in Thomson have been available to detainees in Gitmo for several years now.

So why spend the money and the time just to transport terrorists into the US?  Vanity, and not just presidential vanity, either.  Barack Obama may have spent three years claiming that Gitmo encourages terrorism, but he wasn’t the only one — Graham spouted the same nonsense, too, as did Democrats and a few other Republicans.  What exactly is the evidence for this, other than the proclamations of a few politicians?  Terrorism existed before Gitmo opened; we have a massive hole in the ground in Manhattan to testify to that.  It will exist regardless of where we hold detainees.  The terrorists are not at war with us because of Gitmo, and the suggestion that they are is absurd.


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Why is it always Lindsey Graham making the worse deals?

Dr Evil on March 19, 2010 at 10:57 AM

They really do want to lose both the House AND the Senate.

KSgop on March 19, 2010 at 10:57 AM

The terrorists are not at war with us because of Gitmo, and the suggestion that they are is absurd.

Yep. Roger that

ted c on March 19, 2010 at 10:59 AM

Between this and the immigration issue, Lindsey’s really setting himself up to become the big media’s most beloved Republican in the run-up to the 2012 election (and you can expect to see Graham touted as the ideal Republican presidential candidate, and if they get their way, sweet-talked into an independent run for president, in the same way John Anderson was suckered by the media into running in 1980 because the Republican nominee of the moment — whoever the heck that guy was — was dangerously too far to the right and obviously unelectable).

jon1979 on March 19, 2010 at 11:01 AM

The domestic terrorists in the demorat party want to be closer to their foreign brethren, that’s why they like this scheme.

Innocent Americans are going to get killed because of the decisions being made in the White House, and it doesn’t need to happen.

Bishop on March 19, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Let’s ship the terrorists to Illinois in exchange for shipping the Demococrats to GITMO, where they will be put on trial for their crimes against the American people.

It’s a win-win.

NoDonkey on March 19, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Tell me again why I must vote for anyone with an “R” beside their name?

MarkTheGreat on March 19, 2010 at 11:02 AM

I honestly want to return to the days of tarring and feathering the outcasts of our society, but I want to modify it to apply to pols.

Lindsey, you’re up!

madmonkphotog on March 19, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Senate Democratic aides say Mr. Graham believes two other Republicans are willing to join the compromise, but they would not say who.

Maine sisters.

Joe Caps on March 19, 2010 at 11:04 AM

If Gitmo encourages terrorism, then some prison in Illinois will also encourage terrorism. It’s not where the prisoners are held that PO’s the terrorits, it’s the fact that we captured them and are holding them at all that PO’s them. Where is irrelevant.

MarkTheGreat on March 19, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Why is it always Lindsey Graham making the worse deals?

Dr Evil on March 19, 2010 at 10:57 AM

Because he is more interested in making headlines than in making sense.

MarkTheGreat on March 19, 2010 at 11:05 AM

So now the Obama administration wants to claim “credit” for housing terrorists on US soil? Yeah, that’ll go over well with the American people.

Doughboy on March 19, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Between this and the immigration issue, Lindsey’s really setting himself up to become the big media’s most beloved Republican in the run-up to the 2012 election

jon1979 on March 19, 2010 at 11:01 AM

That’s pretty much how McCain became the nominee in 2008.

MarkTheGreat on March 19, 2010 at 11:06 AM

So Graham is trading something Obama wants and getting something Obama wants?

Fabulous logic.

uknowmorethanme on March 19, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Freaking Lindsey Graham has the final say in putting these terrorists in my back yard?

These people have lost their minds. Government healthcare, now this? Costa Rica here I come.

Knucklehead on March 19, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Meanwhile the Feds are still buying that prison in N. IL even though they are not planning on moving any gitmo detainees there.

Who are they planning on holding there? hmmmm?

daesleeper on March 19, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Lindsey has got to GO. South Carolina please get rid of this fool when you get the chance.

Dire Straits on March 19, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Graham’s in a hurry to get Obama onto his favorite topic. Amnesty.

MarkTheGreat on March 19, 2010 at 11:09 AM

What in the @&%$ is wrong with the people of SC? Thank God my family bailed out of there when I was a kid. At least the commies in this state are pretty up front about their politics.

*shakes head*

Laura in Maryland on March 19, 2010 at 11:09 AM

You all are forgetting about when Al Qaeda hijacked those planes on 9/11 to negotiate their fellow terrorists out of Gitmo. What? They flew them into buildings? Nevermind…..

LibTired on March 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM

What is wrong with the folks that vote this horrible traitor Graham into office… GET HIM OUT !!!!

HE IS A TRAITOR to American security, he wants to allow MILLIONS of ileagles and now this ????

He is NO Republican… he is a RADICAL !

Mark Garnett on March 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Freaking Lindsey Graham has the final say in putting these terrorists in my back yard?

These people have lost their minds. Government healthcare, now this? Costa Rica here I come.

Knucklehead on March 19, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Funny how that works. There is an old navy base in Charleston that would be the perfect place to build a Supermax facility. It’s what ya might call…”SHOVEL READY”

Laura in Maryland on March 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Honestly, South Carolina, you gave us Jim DeMint. We know you can do better than Lindsey Graham. Why you returned that tool to the Senate in 2008 is beyond comprehension. Please, please do us a favor and get rid of him in 2014!

mwdiver on March 19, 2010 at 11:15 AM

Thanks for that knife in the back, Lindsey. We can always count on you when the chips are down, can’t we?

Cylor on March 19, 2010 at 11:16 AM

Graham must go.

rbj on March 19, 2010 at 11:18 AM

Funny how that works. There is an old navy base in Charleston that would be the perfect place to build a Supermax facility. It’s what ya might call…”SHOVEL READY”
Laura in Maryland on March 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Utilizing a base in Charleston wouldn’t funnel billions of grafted dollars to Illinois and Chicago scumbags who need to get paid-off by PBHO.

Bishop on March 19, 2010 at 11:20 AM

After the way healthcare reform has been handled, Republicans are stupid if they make any deals with this President. Obama chose a totally partisan path with healthcare and we should let him know how polarizing it was. He wants partisanship, let’s give it to him.

Anything the Dems want to do from now on should not get any Republican votes. I don’t care if the Congress wants to pass a resolution congratulating the college basketball champion, Republicans should filibuster it. No cooperation with this President.

JohnInCA on March 19, 2010 at 11:20 AM

these a$$holes (like Lindsey Graham) have got to go… all of them

D2Boston on March 19, 2010 at 11:21 AM

Why is it always Lindsey Graham making the worse deals?

Dr Evil on March 19, 2010 at 10:57 AM
//
He’s not up ’til 2012 is he?…Anybody else seen the headline over at drudge IMPEACH ???

ohiobabe on March 19, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Republicans are stupid if they make any deals with this President.
//
I consider g/nesty a democrat.

ohiobabe on March 19, 2010 at 11:29 AM

The GOPreally needs to toss Graham out of the caucus. He is a traitor and an idiot.

neurosculptor on March 19, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Milestones:
Lindsey Graham passes stupidity test in upper 5th percentile, receives eligibilty to be elected to Congress.

hip shot on March 19, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Speaking of targets, isn’t there a nuculear facility not too far away from that prison?

loudmouth883 on March 19, 2010 at 11:35 AM

Is Lindsey Graham insane, stoopid, or under the convoluted impression that working with Obama makes him some kind of “statesman”. Im sure Eve was thinking the same thing when she took a bite of the apple.

http://alecsavestheworld.blogspot.com

alecj on March 19, 2010 at 11:38 AM

After all the underhanded dealing with this administration on “Health Care Reform”, why on God’s green earth are they negotiating on Gitmo? This is breath-takingly stupid.

olesparkie on March 19, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Lindsey Graham is insane, stupid, and under the convoluted impression that working with Obama makes him some kind of “statesman”.

After the government buys the prison in Illinois, it will need to build restrooms and other facilities outside the prison for protesters who will be out in force every day.

slp on March 19, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Yes, it’s partly vanity but mostly the first incremental step in Americanizing the detainees. The leftist lawyers will rejoice; this is the first step to them being tried with the same rights as citizens.

PattyJ on March 19, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Obama is about to string together quite a few ‘victories’, huh?

Not one of them good for the country.

catmman on March 19, 2010 at 12:00 PM

The GOP needs to sit on this guy… or they are done.

1/3rd of the electroate already selfidentifies as independent because they cannot trust EITHER party.

This “deal” will just show that the Repubs are doing the usual Washington Two Step… that destroyed their credibility in the last two election cycles…

If’n they don’t learn REALLY fast… look for the dreaded third party runs.

Romeo13 on March 19, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Graham’s in a hurry to get Obama onto his favorite topic. Amnesty.

MarkTheGreat on March 19, 2010 at 11:09 AM

That was my first thought.

jeffn21 on March 19, 2010 at 12:22 PM

If the terrorist escape from prison and steal an American job, will Graham make sure they get citizenship?

29Victor on March 19, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Maybe Lindsey will get them amnesty .

borntoraisehogs on March 19, 2010 at 12:27 PM

If the terrorist escape from prison and steal an American job, will Graham make sure they get citizenship?

29Victor on March 19, 2010 at 12:24 PM

As long as it’s a “green” job.

rbj on March 19, 2010 at 12:35 PM

The terrorists are not at war with us because of Gitmo, and the suggestion that they are is absurd.

Yep. Roger that

ted c on March 19, 2010 at 10:59 AM

So here’s the question I haven’t decided on the answer to.

Are Obama, Holder, Graham et al. really so stupid that they buy Al Qaeda’s propaganda? Or do they just think most Americans are stupid enough to buy it and have other reasons for doing this?

ProfessorMiao on March 19, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Yes terrorists are too dangerous to keep in prisons. I mean rapists, murders, child molestors, serial killers and domestic terrorists are one thing but foreign terrorist being housed in prison like that guy Ramzi Yousef who has been in prison for life for the past 13 years? THAT IS ABSURD!

Norvell on March 19, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Darned thing is eating my comments…

ProfessorMiao on March 19, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Yes terrorists are too dangerous to keep in prisons. I mean rapists, murders, child molestors, serial killers and domestic terrorists are one thing but foreign terrorist being housed in prison like that guy Ramzi Yousef who has been in prison for life for the past 13 years? THAT IS ABSURD!

Norvell on March 19, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Two observations.

First, having a couple hundred of these guys in one prison is a different matter than having a couple of these guys in one prison.

Second, bringing illegal combatants onto US soil for detention (which is likely going to happen without charges or trials or tribunals in many cases) also brings them under the jurisdiction of the federal courts. I don’t think that having the federal courts determine military matters is a good idea. Apparently your mileage differs.

ProfessorMiao on March 19, 2010 at 1:36 PM

Norvell at 1:12pm

Software is eating my response when I copy and quote your message.

Two points in response to your post.

First, having a couple hundred of these guys in one prison is different from having a couple of these among hundreds or thousands of regular prisoners.

Second, bringing them onto US soil for detention will also bring them under the jurisdiction of the federal courts. We have already seen the federal courts determine that the terms of the “Shoe Bomber’s” imprisonment don’t meet federal standards, as the courts define them. Since many of the Gitmo detainees are likely to be detained indefinitely without charges or trials, I find it impossible to believe that the federal courts won’t take it upon themselves to start writing military and war policy for America. I think that’s a very bad idea, although apparently your mileage varies.

ProfessorMiao on March 19, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Ahhh, I see it’s eating some and burping up others later…

ProfessorMiao on March 19, 2010 at 2:00 PM

***
I have a modest proposal on how to close Gitmo, to obviate the need for a new prison in Illinois, to make a profit, and to provide “closure” for the Jihadis victim’s families.
***
Just turn the orange jumpsuit clad Gitmo detainees loose in an empty part of Texas–in time for hunting season. Issue “Jihadi tags” at $10,000 each–with half of them–free–reserved for the families of the victims.
***
Many problems solved–no legal expenses–no Jihadis going back to the battlefield. Taxidermy expenses are the hunter’s responsibilities.
***
John Bibb
***

rocketman on March 19, 2010 at 2:14 PM

There will many latte sipping Saudis who will ease the pressure on their American friends in high places. Pleasing Islam keeps the oil flowing unmolested.

BL@KBIRD on March 19, 2010 at 3:21 PM