President Barack Obama’s plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba received a major setback Wednesday when the Senate denied Obama’s request for $80 million to fund the closure, according to the Associated Press. The 90 to 6 vote also asserted that detainees should not be transferred to U.S. prisons.
Several senators have already taken strong stances against moving prisoners to their states. Both Democrats and Republicans seem to have an irrational fear that moving the suspected terrorists to maximum security prisons will make America less safe. This is despite the fact that there are already 347 convicted terrorists being held on U.S. soil, as Illinois Senator Dick Durbin pointed out during the Senate debate. Also, American prisons would hardly be flooded with dangerous terrorists, as there are only 240 detainees being held at Guantanamo.
These detainees should be transferred to U.S. prisons. During the 2008 election, both Obama and John McCain advocated closing Guantanamo, but now neither political party wants to take responsibility for the prisoners.
Republicans are spreading the idea that if the suspected terrorists are acquitted they will be released into the streets, posing a threat to American citizens.
“The American people don’t want these men walking the streets of America’s
neighborhoods,” said Republican South Dakota Senator John Thune to the Senate on Wednesday. “The American people don’t want these detainees held at a military base or federal prison in their backyard, either.”
States should not be afraid of housing a few terrorists in facilities that can already handle serial killers and other violent criminals.
They should instead follow the example of Hardin, Mont., a small town that offered to house Guantanamo inmates in its new, empty detention center, despite opposition from Montana’s representative and two senators, according to The New York Times.
During the Senate vote, Durbin also pointed out that there no one has ever escaped from a federal “supermax” prison. American prisons are just as safe as Guantanamo, which makes many Republican fears unfounded.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the few Republicans in favor of closing the Cuban prison, said during the vote that the U.S. held 400,000 German and Japanese prisoners during World War II.
“The idea that we cannot find a place to securely house 250-plus detainees within the United States is not rational. We have done this before,” he said.
After the abuses that occurred at Guantanamo, it is bad for America’s international image to keep the prison open. These detainees pose no real threat to America’s security and the federal government should take responsibility for them.