TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Moderate Senate Dems likely to vote to keep Gitmo open

REUTERS
The U.S. flag flies over Camp VI, a prison used to house detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, in this March 5, 2013 file photo. The facility is operated by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo and holds prisoners who have been captured in the war in Afghanistan and elsewhere since the September 11, 2001 attacks. The U.S. federal court has no jurisdiction and no legal basis to intervene in the force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo naval base, the Obama administration argued in a court document on July 3, 2013. REUTERS/Bob Strong/Files (CUBA - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CRIME LAW)

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
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

Most-Read Nation

  1. Arizona county clears girl shooter in gun range death
  2. Invasive species in Great Lakes partially blamed on anglers
  3. Death Valley ‘sailing rocks’ linked to freeze-warm cycle
  4. Military pilot was killed in Va. crash
  5. Study examines body’s bacteria on move indoors
  6. Judge reaffirms Texas’ ‘Robin Hood’ system of school funding unconstitutional
  7. U.S. waffling on ISIS feeds confusion among possible allies
  8. Military: Pilot was killed in Virginia F-15 crash
  9. Chicago officer accused of putting gun in suspect’s mouth
  10. Southern Calif. high surf expected to subside today
  11. Feds strip Oklahoma of education funding decisions
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.