Moderate Senate Dems likely to vote to keep Gitmo open
By The Associated Press
Published: Friday, July 5, 2013, 7:21 p.m.
WASHINGTON — President Obama's hardest sell in his renewed push to close the detention center at Guantanamo may be members of his own party — moderate Senate Democrats facing tough re-election bids next year in the strongly Republican South.
Obama has stepped up the pressure to shutter the naval facility, driven in part by his revised counterterrorism strategy and the 4-month-old stain of the government force-feeding Guantanamo prisoners on hunger strikes to prevent them from starving to death. Civil liberties groups and liberals have slammed Obama for failing to fulfill his 2008 campaign promise to close the installation and find another home for the 166 terror suspects being held there indefinitely.
Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have repeatedly resisted the president's attempts to close the facility, arguing that the prisoners are too dangerous to be moved to U.S. soil, that Guantanamo is a perfectly adequate prison and that the administration has failed to offer a viable alternative.
White House counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco lobbied House members in advance of several votes last month to no avail. The House delivered strong votes to keep Guantanamo open.
The Senate will again vote on the future of Guantanamo. All signs point to a bipartisan statement to keep the facility open despite a recent vow to end detention at the installation by two national security leaders — Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and John McCain, R-Ariz.
“When you go out, you talk to average Americans about it, they want to keep them there, they want to keep the terrorists there, they don't necessarily want to hold them here,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., a fierce proponent of keeping Guantanamo open.
Ayotte, who plans to push legislation on a sweeping defense policy bill later this summer, is likely to attract support from Republicans as well as several Democrats looking ahead to tight Senate races next year in Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina. Votes on the detention center will give these Democrats a high-profile chance to split with a president who is unpopular in parts of the South.
Consider Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, one of the most vulnerable incumbents in 2014. In November, he was one of nine Democrats to vote for prohibiting the use of any money to transfer terror suspects from Guantanamo, backing an amendment by Ayotte. The Senate easily passed the measure, 54-41, as part of the Defense policy bill.
Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, another Democrat who voted last year to keep the facility open, indicated she's unlikely to change her position.
“Honestly, I have mixed feelings about it,” she said in an interview. “First of all, it's hard to imagine that people should be detained indefinitely without formal charges being brought. On the other hand, you know, some of the people there are potential serious threats to national security.”
Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who faces re-election next year, also voted with Pryor and Landrieu to keep Guantanamo open. Her office had no comment on how she might vote later this summer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Attack cat to receive medical treatment, therapy
- General gets OK to pursue plea deal
- Lerner emails looked for way out of difficulties at the IRS
- Prostitution found to have vast economic impact
- House pushes for data about GM defect
- Nominee to head NSA leery of delays inherent in 3rd-party collection of telephone data
- Mo. man freedin editor’sdeath sues for $100M
- Floodwaters fall in Montana, Wyoming
- Senator: CIA improperly searched computer network
- CIA accused of meddling in torture probe
- Georgia wants ‘slow poke’ drivers to stay in right lane