Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism official who worked for Bush, Clinton and other presidents, is speaking out against the GOP video about Guantanamo prisoners.
Clarke's comment on the video:
"This video and the recent Republican attacks on Guantanamo are more desperate attempts from a demoralized party to politicize national security and the safety of the American people,” said Clarke, who now works with the left-leaning National Security Network. “But what is more disturbing is their brazen use of imagery and the memory of 9/11 to score political points. Thousands of Americans tragically died that day, and for the GOP to think it can win elections by denigrating their memory is disgraceful.”
I see Clarke's point but disagree to an extent. I think that the bigger problem is that people seem to have forgotten 9/11 and are so secure in their apparent conviction that it was a fluke, a once-in-a-lifetime event, that it can't happen again. I think people should be reminded of it to the point that it reminds us that our country is still in danger from those who would do us harm. The terrorists did not quit hating us just because Barack Obama was elected.
If an individual candidate were using 9/11 for self-promotion, as Rudy Guiliani did on occasion, I would agree with Clarke and disagree with that kind of use. That's not the intent here. The GOP is trying to raise awareness that these terrorists are coming to your neighborhood. The bigger point is that these are not your common street thugs. These are terrorists and the threat isn't just "what if they escape" but that their very presence makes the entire community a target for those other terrorists on the outside.
Their presence in those prisons puts the prison workers at risk - those prisons often use civilian workers in many positions and other contract labor. Those people are not trained or prepared for these kinds of prisoners.
Part of the Gitmo problem is a chronic confusion between Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. Everyone agrees that what occurred at Abu Ghraib was a disgrace, but Gitmo is not that prison. As it is currently, Gitmo is a model facility for its purpose.
Jason Linkins on HuffPo agrees with Clarke and goes furter, saying that the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act should "be larded with the amendments it deserves, like the Push Jaywalkers Into The Ocean Amendment and the Shaming Bedwetters Resolution." He links to this parody of the GOP video:
The reader comments attached to Linkins post are incredible. Consider this excerpt from "whitehawk": "What makes me sick about this video and comments, is the hypocrisy of the GOP. Slavery ended, the rich republicans in southern states needed laborers for your plantations of cotton, what did they do after freedom for the slaves? They started bringing over Germans to America's south to work on the cotton farms, then after WWI and II, they brought home "Nazi" prisoners to work on the plantations. Now you've got the KKK, the skinheads, the 'religious' right radicals and many Senators that are from this group in Congress."
Then the commenter goes on to call the GOP a "hate group" and implying that the answer to everything is gun control. Go figure.
Here is "TruthJusticeForAll" weighing in with an equally asinine opinion: "I agree that W. & his administration should be investigated & prosecuted. Once (although, probably no more), ours was a country of laws & followed the rule of law. This is another problem created by W. & his criminal cohorts. The reason he put the "terrorists" in Gitmo was to deprive them access to the US legal system. Because of his illegal actions, he was able to keep them penned up for 8 years. The down side which is now coming to roost is that by doing so, he may be found to have deprived them of any right to a fair trial & proper defense."
I'm not going to pick that one apart, but I do want to point out that he puts the word terrorists in quotation marks, as if KSM isn't a terrorist. We just rounded these poor goatherds up at random and threw 'em in Gitmo just to screw with their lives and keep them "penned up."
What scares me is that these people vote!
At any rate, Clarke's opinion that the GOP is simply trying to gain political points doesn't hold water. It's a much bigger issue. Consider also that the terrorists released here, not the ones we'll continue to detain, mind you, are to be given welfare assistance, that is, taxpayer dollars. They tried to destroy our country and we're going to pay them and bring them across the borders and set them free. Please explain to me how this is going to keep our country safer.
Every December 7 we stop and remember Pearl Harbor Day and honor those lives that were lost there. We keep that day in the memory of our American story, why not 9/11? Clarke accuses the GOP of "denigrating" the memory of the lives that were lost, but what I think denigrates their memory is the way the Obama administration is glossing over what happened that day. Just ask Debra Burlingame - she made it clear in the WSJ yesterday that those families don't want these terrorists in our country.
If you haven't seen it yet, here is the GOP video:
(Photo credit: Fox News)