Uighurs! Will Europe Take GITMO Detainees? Not if We Don't!

One of the more bizarre aspects of the debate over where to relocate some inmates detained at Guantanamo Bay is this. Several European countries which had previously agreed to take some of them are now hesitating. Their reason?

It’s the reluctance to do the same right here in the USA.

We’re not talking about the high risk terror suspects who will remain locked up. We’re talking about people both military and federal courts said should be freed.

The Obama Administration planned to resettle about 50 detainees in a number of European countries, who had agreed to take them in. The drumbeat of opposition in the Congress to allowing detainees on US soil has until now largely been centered on those who would remain detained. Now, however, the ante has been upped in the case of 17 Chinese Uighur detainees.

Who, you may ask? Uighurs are Chinese Muslims, and all 17 were captured in Afghanistan after the Sept., 11th terror attacks.

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Last October, a federal judge said none posed a security threat and should therefore be freed. Problem is, their attorneys say to return them to China would condemn them to certain imprisonment or possibly death.

The German government had tentatively agreed to resettle nine of the Uighurs in Bavaria, where a community of them already exists. However, the inability of the Obama Administration to reach agreement on resettling several of them in Northern Virginia has seen Germany’s willingness evaporate. The central question here is whether these people represent any security threat, either to the US or Germany.

The US courts have said no, and in fact have ordered the release of 21 GITMO detainees, including the Uighurs.

That’s not good enough for some members of Congress, who want no detainees on US soil, no matter what the courts may say. So then the question must be asked, not of the Europeans but of us. When and under what circumstances are we willing to admit the detention of some of those at Guantanamo was wrong?

We know some of our elected representatives on both sides of the partisan divide have no interest in this fundamental question of justice.

This is not, by the way, a call for freeing dangerous people onto the streets of America, and our elected officials know this (or should). We locked these people up. Dealing with the relocation of the innocent among them is our responsibility, not Europe’s.

So how do we solve this?

The Uighurs and their situation is metaphor for a lot more than simply where they end up. Do we trust our court system? Isn’t this at some point about the rule of law?

You tell me.

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Isn't it Time for Burris to Go?

Illinois’ once (and probably not future) Senator Roland Burris has even seasoned political junkies scratching their heads in amazement. Even as secretly recorded conversations between Burris and disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s brother were being played in state and national media, this guy mounts what he thinks was a counteroffensive. From our “Ya Gotta be Kiddin Me” department:

Burris is telling the nation that those conversations with Robert Blagojevich prove he’s innocent of any pay to play allegations. The Blago sibling, for those who have forgotten, was his brother’s chief fund raiser. Burris wanted very badly to be appointed to Barack  Obama’s vacant Senate seat. So badly, in fact, that he tried to figure out ways to raise money for Blagojevich without making it look like that’s what he was doing. 

Burris says the fact that he never actually sent a check. Trouble is, he promised in the phone conversation to do just that by December 15th. Blagojevich was busted on December 9th. One would think that in light of all this Burris would  finally acknowledge that his time as a US Senator was coming to a close. Nope! His media blitz Wednesday indicates he’s not going quietly into anyone’s good night.

This blog has long maintained Burris’ original appointment was tainted by the alleged actions of his benefactor. At best he should have publicly announced that he was a placeholder, and that he wouldn’t run in next year’s election. No such luck. Whether it’s ego, chutzpah, or just plain political blindness, Roland Burris continues to act as though he’s not tarnished by this ethical firestorm, and that he can win a primary battle for the seat he now holds. 

Even most of his ardent black supporters in his home state are off the bus now. They realize his chances in a primary are slim, and in a general election against a crusading Republican, nil. Maybe President Obama, who has already interceded in one possible Senate battle (in New York) can make Burris see the handwriting everyone else sees on the wall. 

Perhaps an appeal to the legacy Burris holds so dear might work. If not, how about this. The president calls Burris and tells him if he doesn’t either quit now or pledge not to run next year, he, Barack Obama, will campaign in Illinois’ black communities for whoever is Burris’ strongest primary opponent. There are reports that’s just what he did in New York.

Yet it shouldn’t come to this. Roland Burris should do the right thing, which, in light of these phone conversations, is quit, and quit now. Anything less opens up the possibility of a Republican winning that seat in next’s year’s election.

What do you think. Will Roland Burris quit? Should he?

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Will Repubs Go After Sotomayor?

First, before I get started, from by blog post, “Who will POTUS pick for SCOTUS?” on May 4th comes this.

“Based on what I know about her, and the politics of the moment, I’m going with Sonia Sotomayor”

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Hah!!! Don’t want to say I told you so, but this time I got it right. Sonia Sotomayor is the right choice for this court vacancy for a whole bunch of reasons. She has, you see, the legal background and life experience to make ann outstanding Supreme Court Justice. Sure, the Mitt Romneys of the world will call her nomination “troubling”. Fortunately for the nation, he’s not president.

Yet the short answer to the question at the top of this post is, “not as hard as you might think”. Republican elected officials, unlike those who carry their water in the media, realize what extraordinary damage the immigration issue did to their party among Latinos. To rake Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina nominated to the highest court in the land, over the coals would doom the GOP among Latinos for years to come.

No, they’ll leave the heavy lifting to their shadow government on talk radio and cable television. Let’s see now, who have we got here? Rush Limbaugh. Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and don’t forget Lou Dobbs and Joe Scarborough, although they’re not as reliable as the first group. These will be the warriors the Republicans will use while members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on camera mind you, tell her how inspiring her life story is.

What shouldn’t be missed is this. Sonia Sotomayor is not a story without substance. Her nomination shouldn’t simply be seen as the first Latina and the third woman in the history of the court. She brings serious chops to the job. She’s been on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for more than a decade. You don’t get that far being a lightweight.

As I said in the May 4th post, all of those being considered for this job had serious qualifications. We should have expected nothing less from a president who used to be a law professor. What will be interesting going forward is the measure of bipartisan support her nomination receives. If Samuel Alito can be confirmed by a vote of 58-42, Sonia Sotomayor should pass muster no problem.

Unless, of course, you think the conservative echo chamber can kill a Supreme Court nomination single handed. Are they dumb and egocentric enough to think they can?

You tell me.

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