May 20 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, declared victory for our national security as Democrats conceded to remove funding in the war supplemental requested by President Obama to close Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) prison. This change came shortly after Senator Inhofe announced that he was introducing an amendment to prevent any funding in the bill from being used to transfer detainees from Gitmo to the U.S. Senator Inhofe and Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) joined to introduce a bipartisan amendment to strip the funding. A vote on the amendment is likely to occur tomorrow.
"I am extremely pleased that Democrats in the Senate have reversed course and announced that they will not include the $80 million in the war supplemental to close Gitmo," Senator Inhofe said. "I will remain watchful as these positive developments unfold in order to ensure this funding is not slipped in the legislation later on."
Press reports show Democrats concede on Gitmo:
The Washington Post: "Democrats plan to nix $80 million to shut Guantanamo" - President Barack Obama was dealt a setback on Tuesday by fellow Democrats in the Senate who said they would strip $80 million from a war funding bill for closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. "We'll wipe out all the money, but I'll put in a provision saying none of the funds in this bill or any other bill may be used to pay for the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to the United States," until there is some plan, said Senator Daniel Inouye, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and an author of the bill. "The feeling was at this point we were defending the unknown. We were being asked to defend a plan that hasn't been announced," said Richard Durbin, second-ranking Democrat in the Senate. California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein called Obama's request for the money premature.
Think Progress: "Reid: Guantanamo Detainees Should Not Be Held In U.S. Prisons" - Accepting the right wing's baseless premise, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) declared in a press conference today, "We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States." In several tense back and forths with reporters, Reid said he opposes imprisoning detainees on U.S. soil, saying flatly, "We don't want them around the United States."
Politico: "Democrats concede on Guantanamo Bay" - Asked next, if he could see a day when Guantanamo detainees might be transferred to prisons on American soil, Reid refused to clarify his remarks. "We don't want them around," he said.
Fox News: "Democratic Senator Blasts Gitmo Plan" - The president is moving full speed ahead to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, but some prominent members of his party are refusing to go along for the ride. Democratic Senator Jim Webb served as President Reagan's secretary of the Navy, but he is best known as a highly decorated Vietnam veteran and an outspoken critic of the Iraq War. Now Senator Webb is voicing his opposition to the president's plan to close Gitmo by January 2010, and to bring Gitmo detainees to the United States thereafter. SENATOR JIM WEBB, D-VA "...These are people who were brought to Guantanamo for international terrorism. I do not believe they should be tried in the United States."
Politico: "White House fumbled Gitmo, Durbin says" - The Obama administration's missteps forced Senate Democrats to ditch a White House request to fund the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center, according to members of Harry Reid's leadership team. Democrats have been getting plastered on the issue - with the GOP claiming the plan would result in shipping dangerous Islamic terrorists onto American soil, which, oddly, isn't popular. Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says the administration's failure to produce an actual plan made Democrats loathe to take a vote that would almost certainly launch dozens of GOP 30-second ads.
Wall Street Journal: Democrats Discover Gitmo's Virtues - 'We're not going to bring al Qaeda to Big Sky Country. No way, not on my watch," declared Montana Sen. Max Baucus. "I wouldn't want them and I wouldn't take them," insisted Nebraska's Ben Nelson. Not Quantico, piped up Virginia's Mark Warner. After all, it "is in a very populated area in the greater capital region." Look, "Alcatraz is a national park and a tourist attraction, not a functioning prison" for terrorists, said the office of California's Dianne Feinstein.
MSNBC: SENATE DEMS TO STRIP GITMO $$ FROM BILL - Politically, this is a loss for the administration. President Obama had requested millions to close Gitmo with no strings attached. The House acted first as last week, when Democratic leaders passed its version and didn't give the administration a dime. Their attitude was essentially, "When you have a plan, we'll get you the money."
New York Times: Senate Leaders Balk at Closing Guantánamo Prison - Moving to avoid a bitter partisan feud, Senate Democratic leaders have decided to remove from a war spending bill the $80 million that President Obama had requested to close the detention center for terrorist suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Senator Inhofe introduced an amendment to the war supplemental today that would prohibit the use of funds to transfer detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO) to any facility in the United States or its territories, or build, modify, or enhance any facility in the United States or its territories for the purpose of housing any such detainee.
Since President Obama announced that he intended to close GITMO, despite having not produced a disposition plan for the remaining detainees, it has become widely circulated that these prisoners could be transferred to American prisons. Senator Inhofe traveled to the prison in February for the third time to highlight the asset our nation would lose if the prison were to be closed. Senator Inhofe has consistently fought to protect Americans from the transfer of dangerous detainees to the US, and his amendment would prevent any funds in the supplemental from being used for this purpose.
In response to Pres. Obama's executive order to close the prison, Sen. Inhofe led a Congressional Delegation to Guantanamo Bay to see firsthand the state of the prison operations and get the facts out about its critical role in maintaining U.S. national security. While on location, Sen. Inhofe filmed a message to the public via YouTube.
Senator Inhofe then introduced legislation (S.370) to prevent the detainees at Guantanamo from being relocated anywhere on American soil.
He also joined Move America Forward, the nation's largest grassroots organization committed to supporting America's efforts to defeat terrorism and to supporting the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, in calling on Pres. Obama to reverse his decision to close GITMO.
Senator Inhofe toured the Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Sill, one of the US Facilities listed as a possible location to hold Guantanamo detainees to show the discrepancy between the advanced capabilities at GITMO and the proposed US holding sites. The cost of upgrading US sites builds a case to keep the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open and prevent possible relocation of detainees to U.S. soil. Link to Release.
The release of a Pentagon report affirmed what Sen. Inhofe has been saying all along: that the conditions in Guantanamo are humane and fully compliant with the Geneva Convention.
Three weeks after Sen. Inhofe's call for President Obama and Senate colleagues to go see firsthand the facility at GITMO, Attorney General Eric Holder visited GITMO and said closing "will not be an easy process" and even admitted "the facility is well-run by its current military officers." (Washington AP) Read Senator Inhofe's response.