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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Harry Reid- Gitmo Detainees: Not In The U.S.

Yesterday we saw reports that Congress would deny the Obama administration the funds to close Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) until Obama provided a comprehensive plan on how to close it and where those suspected terrorists would be sent.

Harry Reid, in a gaffe prone appearance made some startling statements in regards to that issue:

Reid also mangled his party's position on the congressional news of the day, that Senate Democrats would join their House counterparts in withholding the money President Barack Obama needs to close the Guantanamo Bay prison until Obama comes up with a plan for relocating its prisoners.

But Reid went further than saying he wanted to see a plan for the money before Congress approves it. "We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States," he said.

No one, of course, was talking about releasing terrorism suspects among the American populace. Imprisoning them, perhaps, but not releasing them.

"Part of what we don't want is them be put in prisons in the United States," Reid clarified but digging himself into a bigger hole by departing significantly from some of his colleagues and administration officials. "We don't want them around the United States."

Did the administration put Democrats in an awkward position, asking for the money before setting out how it would be spent?

"Not at all," said Reid.

"Yes," his deputy, Sen. Dick Durbin replied to the same question.

To paraphrase what I said yesterday, in theory, closing Gitmo is a great soundbite, guaranteed to garner the far left's support, but in reality, the game changes when actual comprehensive plans need to be made and decisions about where to put those detainees held there.

When asked to clarify his statement, it was even clearer that he meant exactly what he said, despite the other gaffes at the press conference, this was not a gaffe.

Question: But Senator, Senator, it’s not that you’re not being clear when you say you don’t want them released. But could you say — would you be all right with them being transferred to an American prison?

Harry Reid: Not in the United States.

In a slap at Obama's asking for money to close Gitmo, with no actual plan for how to do so or where to send the 240 prisoners, Senate Democrats wiped out $80 million in new funding requests from Obama to close the facility.

The Politico:

In a clear setback for President Barack Obama, Senate Democrats moved Tuesday to both wipe out $80 million in new funding for the closing the Guantanamo detention facility and bar the administration from moving prisoners to U.S. soil until there is a more detailed plan provided to lawmakers.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) confirmed the decision, which follows intense pressure from Republicans going into debate over a $91.3 billion wartime spending bill expected to come to the floor late Tuesday.

“We’ll wipe out all the money,” Inouye said, “And I’ll put in a provision that says none of the funds in this bill or any other bill can be used to pay for the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to the United States.”

After the press conference with Reid, he issued a statement, found here, clarifying Senate Democrat's stance:

Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today:

“President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, Secretary Colin Powell, President Obama and I all agree – Guantanamo must be closed. President Obama’s approach is a responsible one. He has convened a task force of military and security experts who will recommend how to best keep Americans safe and bring to justice those who seek to do us harm. I am confident that the experts’ plan will be thoughtful and comprehensive, and I look forward to reviewing it when it is released this summer.

“The amendment Chairman Inouye has offered today recognizes that it would be premature for Congress to act before the Administration proposes its plan. I support his amendment. On two important points, however, we do not need to wait for any instruction – and there should be no misunderstanding. Let me be clear: Democrats will not move to close Guantanamo without a responsible plan in place to ensure Americans’ safety. And we will never allow a terrorist to be released into the United States.

“This amendment is as clear as day. It explicitly bars using the funds in this bill to ‘transfer, release or incarcerate’ any of the Guantanamo detainees in the United States. When the Administration closes Guantanamo, we will ensure it does so the right way.”

Video of Reid in chamber found at RCP.