The leadership of the House of Representatives turned down a request from the Obama Administration for funding to begin closing the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The reason the Democrats refused to give the president what he wanted this time was not a lack of votes, as the members of his party in the House could have easily funded his request whether Republicans agreed or not. Appropriations Chairman David Obey said that the administration has not offered a clear plan to wind down operations at Guantanamo and relocate the detainees:
“When they have a plan, they’re welcome to come back and talk to us.”
Perhaps one reason why Obama has not furnished a plan to Chairman Obey is that the president himself isn’t quite sure what to do with the guys on the wrong side of the Gitmo fences. But if President Obama would only look around, he’s sure to find suggestions.
Despite all the hand-shaking during National Buffoon’s European Vacation in April, the EU countries have been cool to the idea of accepting the Guantanamo detainees, although French President Sarkozy did tell Obama that France would take one prisoner off of his hands.
At home, the 57 states haven’t exactly been falling all over each other for the detainees either. Even John McCain, who supports closing the facility, criticized Obama for saying that he would shut Gitmo down without first working out how to go about it”
“I don’t know a state in America that wants them,” the Arizona senator said.
A notable exception is Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who has offered to have some of the prisoners relocated to his Pennsylvania district. All he needs is for a maximum-security facility to be built there overnight.
Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL), just back from a fact-finding mission to Gunatanamo, says that he wants more discussion on whether the facility should be kept open as a prison for those detainees found guilty or who are enough of a threat to keep in detention. He has already introduced a bill to prevent the detainees from being transferred to Florida:
“I know the president is trying to get some of them sent, if found not a threat to this country, to their homelands. But the problem is a lot of the people where they’re from, don’t want them back,” Rooney said. “We’re going to have very tough decisions on where we put these people and my bill was just to say ‘not in Florida.'”
Obama promised that closing Guantanamo would be one of the first official acts of his administration, but like with so many issues, the inexperienced president is learning that campaigning is easy, while governing is much more difficult.
Also, it must be remembered that all of the president’s statements come with an expiration date.