QUOTE OF THE DAY…. I just loved this.
“No good purpose is served by allowing known terrorists, who trained at terrorist training camps, to come to the U.S. and live among us,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the senior Republican on the [House Judiciary Committee]. “Guantanamo Bay was never meant to be an Ellis Island.”
Lamar Smith was so proud of this quote, it’s the lead “story” on his House website this afternoon.
Over the past couple of weeks, Republicans have generally played fast and loose with the language, so as to not blatantly lie. They’ll say, for example, that terrorists might “come to our communities,” which might be technically true if you found a neighborhood within 100 miles of a supermax detention facility and defined it as a “community.”
But Smith went the extra mile today, and warned of having terrorists “living among us,” as if the Obama administration might just have al Qaeda members going to the movies, heading to the malls, and perusing the aisles of your local supermarket. Indeed, he compares the situation to immigration, as if we’re welcoming huddled masses from Gitmo, yearning to breathe free, with open arms.
On a more serious note, Smith made the silly remarks during a hearing with FBI Director Robert Mueller, who, surprisingly enough, agreed that there may be some security concerns associated with bringing prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to U.S. soil, even if they’re locked up in maximum-security prisons.
Specifically, Mueller raised the specter of terrorists of “radicalizing others.” Presumably, the fear is, an al Qaeda member could start chatting up a serial killer, and then the terrorist’s radical ideology might spread.
Now, I’ll concede that I’m unfamiliar with the inner workings of a maximum-security detention facility. There may be practical difficulties in keeping specific prisoners isolated indefinitely.
But I’d like to hear more about this, because at first blush, the concern seems pretty unpersuasive. We’re talking about the worst of the worst — the kind of criminals who aren’t going to get let out. Whether Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tries to chat up Timothy McVeigh* seems largely irrelevant — neither of them are ever going to be released or get out on parole.
For that matter, at the risk of beating a dead horse, we already have Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, Ramzi Yousef, Zacarias Moussaoui, and Richard Reid locked up on U.S. soil. Are we concerned with them potentially “radicalizing others”? By this logic, isn’t it dangerous to have any prisoners in U.S. facilities who might harbor a radical ideology?
* Update: Yes, McVeigh was executed several years ago. My point wasn’t really about McVeigh, per se, but about the possibility of Foreign Bad Guy A corrupting Domestic Bad Guy B. The example wasn’t meant to be literal — I don’t think Khalid Sheikh Mohammed speaks enough English to chat up Americans anyway.