NIMBY…. There was bound to be some pushback against Barack Obama’s decision to close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, but this isn’t the one I was expecting.
Fox News personalities argued last week that the Obama would bring dangerous terrorists “to our soil, right here.” Karl Rove argued over the weekend that Obama will change his mind about Gitmo because “there will be an uproar in the U.S.” about detaining suspects on American soil. John McCain told Fox News yesterday, “I don’t know of a state in America that wants them in their state. You think Yucca Mountain is a NIMBY problem? Wait till you see this one.”
Elana Schor reports that the most likely facility is the military’s maximum-security prison in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas — which, by the way, is where Candidate McCain wanted to send the detainees when he endorsed closing Gitmo — but that’s facing resistance, too. Sen. Sam Brownback (R) and three House Republicans are pushing a measure that would prohibit the transfer of any suspects from Cuba to Kansas. (We’re seeing a similar response from Republicans in South Carolina over the Charleston Naval Brig and Republicans in California over Camp Pendleton.)
I can appreciate the discomfort one might feel in the proximity of a psychotic religious fanatic, but as the Not-In-My-Backyard phenomenon goes, this is pretty silly.
As Glenn Greenwald explained the other day, there are already all kinds of suspected terrorists, including those associated with the 9/11 attacks, in federal detention right here on U.S. soil. As far as I can tell, no one much cares, and there have been no protests from conservative commentators, lawmakers, or activists about moving them out of the country.
I’m not even sure what the complaining is about, exactly. That the Gitmo detainees might break out of incarceration? If conservatives trust federal officials to administer a system of indefinite detention in Cuba, they should probably trust federal officials to keep the bad guys locked up effectively.
Some, meanwhile, have gone so far as to suggest that terrorists could be freed if their allies “crashed a plane into the prison to faciliate [sic] an escape.”
Hilzoy’s words of wisdom from the weekend deserve another look:
Curiously, no jihadists have flown planes into prisons to facilitate the escapes of any of these terrorists. Maybe they’re waiting until we have been lulled into a false sense of security. Since the blind Sheikh has been in prison for over a decade, they are showing a lot of patience. Maybe, on the other hand, Jim Geraghty and the Repubicans in Congress just have hyperactive imaginations.
Moreover, it’s not as though terrorists are the only dangerous people with associates who would be prepared to do a lot to spring them. Consider drug kingpins, for instance: they generally have lots of money and large organizations, and while I’m not sure they would fly planes into prisons (??), they could probably think of less lurid ways to spring people.
And yet the United States, under George W. Bush, actually sought to have these dangerous people extradited to the United States, exposing our citizens to danger! Not only that, we succeeded! For instance, Francisco Javier Arellano Felix, the head of the Tijuana cartel, is now locked up in San Diego. We are seeking the extradition of his brother Eduardo, and have several other high-ranking members the cartel in custody. OMG!! Americans are at risk!!! What shall we do???
I suggest chilling out. We are talking about maximum security prisons, which are designed to keep very dangerous people locked up. If our government decides that extra resources are needed to keep terrorists safely behind bars, it has very capable people who could be deployed for that purpose.
Good advice. As Atrios noted the other day, we’re not talking about “actual supervillains with special powers.”