Multiple reports are confirming that the nearly-dormant Thomson, Illinois state prison mentioned earlier will indeed be used to house inmates from Guantanamo Bay.
Administration officials along with Illinois' unelected governor Pat Quinn and Dick Durbin, the US senator who compared American military personnel to KGB and Khmer Rouge murderers to win brownie points with his left-wing base, are expected to make a formal announcement from the White House Tuesday.
This is like a multilayered wedding cake of bad ideas, bad policy and cronyism heaped on top of each other. First of all, I think it's a bad idea to bring most of the detainees from Guantanamo to the continental United States where they will be entitled to the same rights and protections as a motorist the State Patrol pulls over for a broken tail light. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is the most notable example, but there are other detainees who will be facing a military tribunal (which I would've been more in favor of). Think about it; these so-called 'men' in custody who strive to deprive others of so many basic rights (i.e. to go to school, to not wear a headscarf, etc) through coercion, murder and intimidation will now be able to use the freedoms afforded to them in a civilian trial for their own tactical, judicial and logistical ends. This played out before in the civilian trials of the Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi embassy bombers when means of tracking and surveillance by intelligence agencies and law-enforcement were made public during the trial courtesy of the discovery process.
Even if I was in favor of a civilian and jury trial, President Obama really and truly stepped in it with this public statement regarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed last month:
"I don't think it would be offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him," the President said.
Um....hello? I'm not a legal scholar- hell.....I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn last night- but if the purpose of the trial was to close down the Guantanamo Bay facility, show the rest of the world how fair our justice system is and 'restore America's image' among people who want to kill Americans, then what the friggin' damn hell is the point of announcing a guilty verdict for the defendant before the trial even begins? Does that or does that not give the subsequent proceedings the feel of a totalitarian 'show-trial' where the verdict and sentence has already been decided ahead of time.
And I'm sure some of you will be saying at this point "Oh Fenway- you bitter, bible and gun clinging right-wing whackjob, the President and Attorney General know what they're doing. All opposition to this is merely propagated by the right-wing smear merchants. Your blog sucks and you're a big doody-head".
Umm....ok, I can't argue the blog part and the jury's still out on my head. However, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) is hardly what anybody would consider a blue-dog Democrat, let alone card-carrying member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Expressing concerns about the President and AG's decision to try some suspects in civilian courts, he had this to say:
"It will be disruptive, costly, and potentially counterproductive to try (the suspected terrorists) as criminals in our civilian courts," he warned.
Of course....right after that quote is a statement from the ACLU praising Holder's decision which is all the more reason for me to have grave doubts about this inevitable fiasco.
And if common sense or national security wasn't enough to question the whole decision, there's also the matter of who benefits politically from the White House's choice of location to house the Guantanamo terrorists. Earlier this year, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm was practically begging Arnold Schwarzenegger to send California inmates to some nearly-empty prisons in Michigan in a deal that never materielized. Federal officials were also considering sites in Montana and Colorado. However, Durbin had been lobbying the Administration to house the inmates at Thomson, IL prison.
What was wrong with the Supermax in Colorado? Or the sites in Michigan or Montana? Hmm....maybe it might have something to do with the fact that Durbin was the first senator to endorse Obama's presidential bid more so than any judicial or logistical concerns the administration might have.
So Hooray for "The Illinois Way" carrying the day.