Yesterday, President Obama issued an executive order that will close the Guantanamo Bay detention center for terrorist enemy combatants within a year. Democrats have incessantly bashed the Bush Administration and Republicans for Guantanamo for the “treatment” of the Guantanamo detainees. They got considerably mileage out of this, primarily because a tiny military installation perched on the edge of a Communist dictatorship sounds exactly like somewhere Ethan Hunt would take a captive to torture him into submission. The facts, which showed that the detainees were treated with greater deference and care than most domestic prisoners, were not important to liberals or their media enablers. But neither did Democrats propose any real alternatives for dealing with the prickly problem of where to house people who we’re glad we’ve caught, who want to kill us, but who we can’t convict in a civil court of law and whose home countries will not take them back.
Now we’re forced to start thinking about those alternatives, and Democrats may not like where this story leads. Jim Geraghty tells us that the three most likely places these detainees will be taken are “right next to a nuclear power plant in Southern California, right next to the facility for educational and training programs for foreign military students at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, and right in the middle of northern Charleston, South Carolina, three miles or so from an airport.” Exactly where you keep your terrorists, right? All of these places have voters, and I expect none of them would like to have terrorists as neighbors, particularly terrorists who were once considered so threatening that we couldn’t risk bringing them to the U.S. (Consider that thought for a moment – we are IMPORTING terrorists who otherwise wouldn’t be in the country.)
Regardless of where we store our terrorists, now we will have their trials in the U.S. You can imagine how different the media presence at those proceedings will be when the trial is in Kansas rather than Cuba. If a prisoner alleges mistreatment, the government (now, the Obama Administration) will be in the middle of a media firestorm that will make the “Koran flushing” non-incident look like a cakewalk. The “Arab street” won’t care if Obama or Bush is in the White House in light of such accusations. Will we have a 60 Minutes interview with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, or a Barbara Walters sit-down with the Uighurs? If journalists are denied access to the prisoners, they will surely file suit, arguing that the First Amendment grants them the right to interview willing detainees.
All this adds up to an exponential increase in the amount of coverage the enemy combatants will enjoy. Suddenly, it will be painfully apparent that the Obama Administration’s way of dealing with terrorists is with lawyers, not with bullets. And when the first acquitted terrorist is not permitted to return to his home country, will he walk out of his detention facility, smiling, into the streets of Kansas? While progressives preen about this wonderful example of American justice, will Main Street Americans welcome our latest illegal immigrant with open arms? If this former enemy combatant becomes a suicide bomber, as they have been known to do, and blows up an elementary school in Missouri, I don’t think Americans will accept his lawyer’s explanation that his time in American custody “radicalized” him.
As much as Guantanamo became a whipping boy for American imperialism, it assumed that status because “human rights” advocates adopted the charge as part of their anti-American dogma. That can happen just as easily to Fort Leavenworth. And if it does, it will be the Obama Adminstration’s “gulag,” not Bush’s.
You now own this problem, Mr. President. Have fun with that.