President Barack Obama may be broadly popular, but congressional Democrats know all politics is local. That’s the main reason they don’t want any part of Obama’s plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — at least until they know for sure what’s to become of Gitmo’s inmates.
In January the president announced Guantanamo would be closed within a year. But it’s clear now the administration had no concrete plan for dispersing the facility’s 240 or so detainees, some of whom are uber-dangerous terrorists. With whispers around Washington that the Obama team was thinking about moving detainees to U.S. locations, even Democrats sought distance. It’s hard to imagine an issue more toxic than being the member of Congress who let Khalid Sheikh Mohammed come to a prison near you.
First Democrats in the House and then the Senate omitted funds to close Guantanamo from a war funding bill. Obama says Gitmo still is going to be closed, and Democrats could quickly come up with the money if there’s a closure plan to their liking. But for now few in Congress are willing to be part of decision that’s looking more and more like it was rolled out before it was carefully thought out.