If it’s not Senators grandstanding on the administration’s national security policy with regards to drones which has allowed us to brings troops home sooner rather than later, it’s Senators grandstanding on the administration’s desire to reverse Bush-era detention policy which, by all accounts, has served as an excellent recruiting tool for extremists.
On Thursday, Suleiman Abu Gaith, identified by US officials as Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and a spokesperson for Al Qaeda, was indicted in federal court in New York City on charges of conspiracy after reportedly being handed over to the US by Jordanian authorities. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) promptly went ballistic, saying military detention was imperative. “By processing terrorists like Sulaiman Abu Ghayth through civilian courts, the Administration risks missing important opportunities to gather intelligence to prevent future attacks and save lives.” They added that Obama’s “lack of a war-time detention policy for foreign members of Al Qaeda, as well as its refusal to detain and interrogate these individuals at Guantanamo, makes our nation less safe.”
I effectively read the latter part of this statement as ‘because the president won’t torture them, we’re less safe.’ Because why else would interrogating them in Cuba be any different than interrogating them in the New England?
This has inspired a moment of schadenfreude in me because one of the oldest talking points used by the president’s critics on the left is that he has refused to reverse Bush-era detention policy or close Guantanamo Bay, but you know as well as I do that congress has repeatedly voted to bar the president from closing Guantanamo, from transferring detainees to the United States, and in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, barred the administration from prosecuting him in New York City.
Now that the administration has apprehended a high-profile suspect outside of the old system, Senators want to send him straight to Guantanamo. The difference this time is that they can’t force the Department of Justice to alter course while in previous instances they could.
I would hasten to remind you that obstruction of the administration’s desired national security policy has been, for the most part, bipartisan. The only self-identified socialist in congress even voted against closing Guantanamo.