Many debates in Washington seem surreal. One often wonders why anyone considers the issue even to be a matter of controversy.
So it is with the question of closing the prison in Guantanamo Bay. Whatever one thinks about the facility, why are panicked politicians screaming "not in my state/district!"? After all, the president didn't suggest randomly releasing al-Qaeda operatives in towns across America. He wants to put Guantanamo's inmates into American prisons.
Notes an incredulous Glenn Greenwald:
we never tire of the specter of the Big, Bad, Villainous, Omnipotent Muslim Terrorist. They're back, and now they're going to wreak havoc on the Homeland -- devastate our communities -- even as they're imprisoned in super-max prison facilities. How utterly irrational is that fear? For one thing, it's empirically disproven. Anyone with the most minimal amount of rationality would look at the fact that we have already convicted numerous alleged high-level Al Qaeda Terrorists in our civilian court system (something we're now being told can't be done) -- including the cast of villains known as the Blind Shiekh a.k.a. Mastermind of the First World Trade Center Attack, the Shoe Bomber, the Dirty Bomber, the American Taliban, the 20th Hijacker, and many more -- and are imprisoning them right now in American prisons located in various communities.
Guantanamo may be a handy dumping ground for detainees, but it has become a symbol of everything wrong with U.S. anti-terrorism policy. Closing the facility would help the administration start afresh in dealing with suspected terrorists.
The fact that Republicans are using the issue to win partisan points is to be expected. But the instant, unconditional Democratic surrender surprises even a confirmed cynic like me.