Yesterday, the Senate handed President Obama a resounding defeat. They voted 90-6 against the funding for the closing of Gitmo. This astounding vote can only be described as an absolute victory for the Right wing fear machine. Since Obama announced that he was going to close Gitmo, the voices on the right have been screaming that this will certainly make us less safe. Republican representatives have been using every available pulpit to assert that they are not willing to take these dangerous detainees in their state prisons.
It seems almost laughable to hear the Right talk about these detainees as if they were master criminals from fiction. It would seem that we have everybody from the Joker to Lex Luther and they are just waiting for the opportunity to be on American soil so that they can reap havoc on the citizens of this country. The fact that we already have convicted terrorists in our prisons does not seem to matter to the Right. Those guys are apparently just the B team. The people we have in Gitmo are the real criminal masterminds. Never mind the fact that no one has ever escaped from a supermax prison, to hear the Right tell it, those super fortified detention centers are no match for the brilliant and devious minds of the detainees at Gitmo.
Before yesterdays vote, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California gave an impassioned speech in which she explained that the supermax detention centers in her state were more than capable of handling these detainees. She also said that she hoped that her fellow Senators had not been swayed by any words to the contrary. Of course she then went out and voted against the funding herself. Amazingly, this was not the most egregious action in the Senate yesterday. That prize would have to go to Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader. After having voted against the funding, he gave a press conference in which he stated that he didn't want these people released onto American streets. He was reminded by a reporter that the President wasn't talking about releasing anyone, but just transferring them. He responded that you can't put them in prison unless you release them??!?!?!?!?! I have no idea what he could have possibly meant, but when the leader of the Democrats in the Senate is spewing ridiculous right wing talking points, you know that something has gone terribly wrong.
Maybe I don't understand. Perhaps our federal prisons are as easy to get out of as jury duty. Who knows? I somehow find that hard to believe though. As stated before, we already have terrorists in our prisons. They have not managed to escape and unless we are bringing the inmates from Arkham asylum, I don't think that we'll have a mass escape any time soon. The Republicans love to play the politics of fear and this time it seems to have ensnared most of the Senate. I thought that the Democratic Senators were smarter than that, but then I tend to give people too much credit.
UPDATE: Here are the six brave souls who voted for the measure: Durbin (D-IL)Harkin (D-IA)Leahy (D-VT)Levin (D-MI)Reed (D-RI)Whitehouse (D-RI). They deserve our thanks.