Via Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic, consider this excerpt from an interview between Harry Reid and Jon Ralston regarding the closure of Gitmo.
"Reid, who has been criticized for his contradictory positions on
Guantanamo Bay, said some prisoners will be put in maximum security prisons on soil, emphasizing the safety of those facilities: U.S.
"'A maximum security prison in the
, there has never been a single escape.'" United States
"JR: 'You think eventually the plan is going to be to put them in maximum security prisons here in this country, correct?'
"'I think some. Keep in mind, Jon, there's so many different issues. There's no question that a number of these people who are there are not guilty of anything. The Uighurs, these are a group of Muslim Chinese who are guilty of nothing. They were arrested, put in there. They are there. They are doing nothing. We're going to have to find someplace to put them. We can't send them back to
. Should they go into a maximum security prison? Probably not.'" China
This is the same Harry Reid who on May 19, on said this:
REID: If people are -- if terrorists are released in the United States, part of what we don’t want is them be put in prisons in the United States. We don’t want them around the United States.
and then this:
REID: I’m saying that the United States Senate, Democrats and Republicans, do not want terrorists to be released in the United States. That’s very clear.
QUESTION: No one’s talking about releasing them. We’re talking about putting them in prison somewhere in the United States.
REID: Can’t put them in prison unless you release them.
QUESTION: Sir, are you going to clarify that a little bit? I mean (OFF-MIKE).
REID: I can’t -- I can’t -- I can’t make it any more clear than the statement I have given to you. We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States. I think the majority -- I speak for the majority of the Senate.
So what has changed in seven days? Seven days ago he didn't want the Guantanamo terrorists anywhere near the United States, much less released into the United States. Now he has totally reversed that and says that they'll be just fine in a Supermax, thanks. It even appears that he's softening on the release issue as well for some of them, specifically the Uighurs.
In the Ralston interview, Reid makes it sound as if the Uighurs were simply rounded up at random and stuck in Gitmo. Never mind that they, by their own words, were training in a Tora Bora al Qaeda camp. Never mind that they had desires to wreak havoc in China.
Thomas Joscelyn cites four reasons why it is dangerous to assume the Uighurs are not dangerous. The reasons are listed below but go here to read his explanation.
"Second, many of the Uighur detainees have freely admitted during their tribunals and hearings at Guantanamo that they were trained by two known terrorists: Hasan Mahsum and Abdul Haq."
"Third, the Uighur detainees’ training took place at a camp in Tora Bora, Afghanistan -– a known stronghold for al Qaeda and the Taliban."
"Fourth, the Uighur detainees’ training makes them a potential threat not just to the Chinese government/military forces."
So as I see it, Reid is faulty on two counts here - his reasoning that the Uighurs have done nothing wrong is quite dangerous, but his total reversal on the Guantanamo issue is also troubling. One statement in particular bothers me - Reid now seems to be comfortable with the Supermax idea because "there has never been a single escape."
What is bothersome about this statement is the naivete of the idea that escape is the only problem with bringing terrorists here (Uighur or otherwise). Andy McCarthy outlined the other problems at The Corner on NRO. We know that terrorists can recruit, plan, and execute attacks from within prison walls. This has been documented. See the McCarthy article for the specific citations.
In addition, just because they can't escape doesn't mean the prisons won't be targeted by terrorist organizations to get them out. One specific example McCarthy cites is this: "So, for example, when the WTC was bombed in 1993, the other top project on the cell's agenda was breaking Nosair out of Attica. When the WTC bombers were arrested, their co-conspirators plotted several atrocities (a conspiracy to murder Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on a trip to New York and a plot to bomb New York City landmarks) which, in part, were designed (as they discussed in recorded conversations) to induce American authorities to release the prisoners. "
Also, consider this information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act regarding attacks on prison guards at Gitmo. Those guards are trained military professionals - not civilians. I don't mean to imply that Supermax prison guards aren't trained or professional, but dealing with prisoners of this sort is a whole different experience. How will your average civilian prison guard fare against terrorists who can turn the most common thing, like an iguana tail, into a weapon?
There is this incident from the above referenced report: "Nicolucci said one of the most serious incidents occurred this May, too recent to be recorded in the Pentagon's released reports. A prisoner staged an apparent suicide attempt while his inmates slicked the floors with human waste, seeking to overpower guards when they slipped, he said. 'We provide fans in order to keep them cool,"Nicolucci recalled."And they were using the basket, or the grate of the fan as a shield, the blades as machetes, the pole as a battering ram.'"
Harry Reid seems to conclude that escape is the only real problem with keeping the terrorists in prisons inside America but that tells me he hasn't done his homework. Or he's just clueless, which is also a possibility.
McCarthy raises the concern that eventually, once in our Supermax prisons, these people would have to be released: "I note that in 2001, the Supreme Court (in Zadvydas v. Davis) concocted a due process right for even deportable/excludable aliens to be released on bail, in the U.S., if the government fails to deport them within a statutorily prescribed period. Eventually, Gitmo detainees brought to the U.S. would get the benefit of this ruling — bet on it."
So again, I ask, has Team Obama thought this thing through? Clearly they have no plan. And clearly Harry Reid changes his mind fairly often. So isn't this an issue that should be better considered by the administration? Or is a campaign promise more important than national security? Just askin'.
Uighur Release Coming Soon
The Chinese Uighurs
Obama's Speech on National Security
Richard Clarke on the Gitmo Video