Sunday, May 17, 2009

Senator Webb wants to keep Club Gitmo open

"Well, let me back up for a minute." - Senator Jim Webb (D-VA)

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) said on ABC's This Week that he was no longer in favor of closing the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay on the President's time table. (Senator Jon Kyl R-AZ was also there.)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know -- well, let me just interrupt you there, because I have an AP story from April 2007 where you said -- it says that you told reporters that detainees should either be declared prisoners of war or charged in the American judicial system.

"We can't just continue to hold people in limbo without charges for this period of time and still call ourselves Americans."

WEBB: If I said charged in the American judicial system, I would mean under the traditions of the rules of evidence and these sorts of things. But my view has always been that we need to move these people forward.

We need to find those people who should be held accountable and hold them accountable. And people who have been held inappropriately should be released.

But I don't believe that the situation with people in Guantanamo, as opposed to others who have conducted activities in the United States are the same. I think that the people who have been held in Guantanamo are being charged essentially for acts of international terror, for acts of war, and they don't belong in judicial system, and they don't belong in our jails.

STEPHANOPOULOS: This is what the commissions...

WEBB: And I don't believe -- I do, I do. But with this caveat, we need commissions like this because there are issues of evidence that you cannot take care of inside the regular American court system, classified information that might have an impact on how we collect intelligence and those sorts of things.

And there are facilities built in Guantanamo right now that are able to do that.

My favorite part of the interview:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You laid out nicely the various groups of detainees that the president has to deal with, which, of course, brings us to the question of, what to do with those detainees once Guantanamo is closed, as the president has called for.

I know this is creating a lot of controversy in the Senate because of the possibility that some of these detainees may have to come to the United States.

And the attorney general, Eric Holder, was asked about this at the Senate this week, and he said very clearly that no dangerous detainees will be released in the United States.


ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't know, whatever quantum of proof, however you want to describe it, to believe that a person posed a danger to the United States, we will do all that we can to ensure that that person remains detained and does not become a danger to the American people.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And is that enough assurance for you, Senator Kyl?

KYL: Well, understand that we've already released those who, after careful examination, we thought didn't pose a danger. And the number is somewhere between 30 and 60 who turned out to continue to conduct their activities against us after they were released.

The remaining 240 or so do pose a danger. So there aren't any left that can easily be released because they don't pose a danger.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's not exactly true, right? And I want to bring Senator Webb in on this, because I know there are about 17, I believe, Chinese Uighurs, they are called, who have been ordered released by a federal court, they've determined not to be a threat to the United States.

And the administration has been working on plans to bring them to Virginia. Can you accept them in your state?

WEBB: Well, let me back up for a minute. The answer is no.


WEBB: No. And I'll -- and then let me explain why. But to back it up, the numbers that we've seen in my office are about 800 people have gone through Guantanamo.

The majority of those who have been released, we're down to 220 to 240, so the majority of those that have been released have been released to third countries, not actually released out into the open -- you know, to where they can... STEPHANOPOULOS: Just let out the door, right.

WEBB: Yes, right. So we don't know really where they have gone. This other group deserves due process. They deserve, in the right kind of environment, and I support what the president is doing on the military commissions, to have their cases examined, to see whether or not they should continue to be detained.

The situation with the Chinese Uighurs that you're talking about, on the one hand, it can be argued that they were simply conducting dissident activities against the government of China.

On the other, they accepted training from al Qaeda and as a result they have taken part in terrorism. I don't believe they should come to the United States.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Not to the United States and not Virginia.

WEBB: No, I don't believe so.

KYL: No, I totally agree.

In other words, I was totally in favor of closing Club Gitmo and bringing them to the United States. Then somebody showed me the file. Whoah. What happened to the accountants and the actuaries? Man, what a bunch of thugs. "Capable of blowing up an entire airport with cleaning supplies found in any airport janitorial closet. Spent two years training with al Qaeda to be a vicious killer. Really dangerous." And then they said they want put them where? Virginia? My state? You gotta be kidding me. I got an idea. Let's put 'em on an island somewhere. Oh, wait. They are on an island. F--k it. Just keep 'em there.

You know that's exactly what happened. Hilarious to watch Democrats suddenly stop believing in "artificial timelines" when it's a Democratic President who wants to release some of these guys in Virginia. Video at the Huffington Post.