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Politics & Policy

Gitmo Is Turning into a Revolving Door for Terrorists. Will Democrats Notice?

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Gitmo Is Turning into a Revolving Door for Terrorists. Will Democrats Notice?

We let prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay . . . and they return to the fight:

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a new video featuring a former Guantanamo detainee, Ibrahim Qosi, who is also known as Sheikh Khubayb al Sudani.

In July 2010, Qosi plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and material support for terrorism before a military commission. His plea was part of a deal in which he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors during his remaining time in US custody. Qosi was transferred to his home country of Sudan two years later, in July 2012.

Qosi joined AQAP in 2014 and became one of its leaders. Qosi and other AQAP commanders discussed their time waging jihad at length in the video, entitled “Guardians of Sharia.”

We’re constantly being told by President Obama that whatever policy idea he opposes — halting Syrian refugees, keeping Guantanamo Bay open, sending ground troops to fight ISIS — is “doing exactly what the terrorists want.”

Ace of Spades points out that getting let out of prison is literally “exactly what the terrorists want.”

Obama also keeps telling us the detention center at Guantanamo Bay “has been an enormous recruitment tool for organizations like ISIL.” Do you believe that? Some ordinarily Muslim young man hears about Guantanamo Bay and heads out to Syria to sign up with the beheading maniacs? A recent study of 49 fighters in Syria and Iraq who were willing to discuss their motivations didn’t mention Guantanamo Bay.

Here’s a quick refresher on life at Gitmo:

It’s been a busy summer at the detention center at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base. The joint task force in charge of the 226 remaining detainees — they are never called “prisoners” — is spending about $440,000 to expand the recreation yards at Camp 6, a medium-security facility. At nearby Camp 4, which offers communal living for the most “compliant” captives, the soccer yard is being enlarged. At Camp 5, a maximum-security facility, another new, $73,000 classroom is under construction, and satellite TV cables have just been installed. In March, Joint Task Force Guantánamo added art classes to the thrice-weekly instruction it offers in Arabic, Pashtu, and English. And the estimated 16 detainees who have been cleared for release as soon as Washington can find countries willing to accept them have just received training on new laptop computers, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.

Gitmo continues to expand its “intellectual stimulation program” for detainees, whose education ranges from nonexistent to postgraduate. In addition to a library of over 15,000 books in a dozen languages, magazines, puzzles, electronic games, and newspapers — two mainstream Arabic dailies are offered twice weekly along with USA Today — there are over 315 movies on DVD and up to five hours a day of five-channel satellite TV. Detainees may order between two and eight books a week. Librarians black out pictures of scantily clad women and other photos that detainees find offensive.

Over at America Rising, they note that just about every Democrat running for Senate in 2016 has voted for or publicly supported bringing Gitmo prisoners to the United States.

• The Democrats’ lone incumbent, Colorado’s Michael Bennet, is likely breathing a sigh of relief that he was a no-show during Clinton’s visit to the state last week. With Colorado a likely destination for detainees, Bennet claims to oppose transfers to the U.S. However, his record includes multiple votes to enable the transfers and he has called closing the base “the right thing to do.”

• Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander also faces the likelihood of detainees being transferred to his backyard, just over the border in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Despite widespread local opposition to the transfers, Kander voted against a resolution urging Congress to reject detainee transfers into Missouri or Kansas when he served in the state legislature, putting him a lot closer to Obama and Clinton than to the voters in his state.

• Patrick Murphy, a Florida Republican-turned-Democrat desperate to burnish his liberal credentials to win his primary against left-wing firebrand Alan Grayson, has consistently supported legislation to make it easier to bring detainees to the homeland. The Obama-Clinton Gitmo plan presents another tough issue where Murphy risks alienating general election voters who deeply oppose it.

• Illinois’s Tammy Duckworth, who touts Clinton’s endorsement in an increasingly crowded Democratic Senate primary, is all-in on Clinton’s strategy. Duckworth called for the facility to be “shut down immediately” and pushed for a “fair trial” for terrorist detainees in an interview with a Thai newspaper in 2012. Duckworth also cast numerous votes to facilitate prisoner transfers to the U.S.

• New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan, another Clinton supporter, said she would “consider closing” Gitmo, but hasn’t offered any specifics. Her Republican opponent, Kelly Ayotte, strongly opposes the closure and has established significant gravitas on the issue, leading a recent Congressional visit to the base. If Hassan sides with Clinton, voters will face a stark contrast between the candidates.

• Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, another Clinton-backed Democrat facing a primary challenge from the left, has maintained a strict silence on the issue, opening up yet another opportunity for primary opponent P. G. Sittenfeld to drive a wedge between him and Clinton, as he has on gun control and the Keystone pipeline.

• Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto and Pennsylvania’s Katie McGinty have avoided taking a position on Gitmo, but then again, they’ve kept mum on Clinton too.

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