In a break from a very popular president, the United States Democratic-led Senate voted 90-6 against funding the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison. President Obama’s administration was looking for $80 million to begin the closing down process.
“The president’s speech today was trying to sell a plan and tell people to trust him one more time,” U.S. Rep Brian Bilbray R-Calif. said. “Obama did change his mind with regard to the release of detainee photos and this is another chance for us to change his mind.”
In a speech from the National Archives in Washington D.C., the president restated his vow to close the prison which houses more than 240 detainees.
Not to be outdone, former Vice President Dick Cheney gave a fact-driven speech of his own at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. “When the new president mischaracterizes the Bush Administration – he deserves an answer.” Cheney has been out front on this issue vehemently defending the Bush policies.
In the months leading up to the election we heard then vice presidential candidate Joe Biden –D-DE explained that Obama was going to face a steep learning curve. “As we see with the Gitmo situation, you see the curve is real steep,” Bilbray said. “The fatal problem here is the president is doing this all for image and he is not worried about the taxpayer’s pocketbook.”
The Bush administration went to great expense to modernize the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The facility is surrounded by three bodies of water and Communist Cuba on the fourth. “It’s the perfect location with all the security required,” Bilbray said.
In another speech to the Senate on Wednesday, FBI Director Robert Mueller told congress bringing the detainees to the U.S. could pose a number of risks – even in the “supermax” prisons. This led to the landslide vote and the Senate turning away the president’s plan to close the often controversial Gitmo compound.
The president said he “won’t let this problem fester.” He also accused the GOP of “fear mongering.”
Former Clinton and Bush CIA Director George Tenet disagrees; “I’ve seen it all, this program works.”
Where the detainees end up is anyone guess. In a recent briefing from the Pentagon there are four potential sites for these terrorists to go. Two of them are in San Diego county; MCAS Miramar and Camp Pendleton.
“San Diego would be a terrible location. We live in one of the largest metropolitan cities,” Bilbray explained. “If the terrorist were moved here, there is a real possibility that other terrorists would target the facility to break out their buddies.”
Another fear for the San Diego location is the terrorists could scout out the employees who work at the prison and target their families in order to get the keys. “In Guantanamo, the personnel are anonymous and we don’t have those fears,” Bilbray said. “The president just needs to stop, count to ten, and be brave long enough to say, ‘I was wrong about this.’”
A statement from U.S. Rep Duncan Hunter R-Calif. reads; “Instead of using this opportunity to put forward a thought out, detailed plan to close Guantanamo Bay, the president continued to defend his decision with vague and simple assurances.”
“Still, there is no workable plan on the table or even under discussion, which is why congress rejected the president’s request for funding to proceed with this effort,” Congressman Hunter is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.