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Tilting at Windmills

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May 29, 2009

SHARING THE BURDEN, REDUX.... It appears that our European allies have noticed the rhetoric -- and recent bipartisan votes -- from Congress on Gitmo.

The Obama administration's push to resettle at least 50 Guantanamo Bay prisoners in Europe is meeting fresh resistance as European officials demand that the United States first give asylum to some inmates before they will do the same.

Rising opposition in the U.S. Congress to allowing Guantanamo prisoners on American soil has not gone over well in Europe. Officials from countries that previously indicated they were willing to accept inmates now say it may be politically impossible for them to do so if the United States does not reciprocate.

"If the U.S. refuses to take these people, why should we?" said Thomas Silberhorn, a member of the German Parliament from Bavaria, where the White House wants to relocate nine Chinese Uighur prisoners. "If all 50 states in America say, 'Sorry, we can't take them,' this is not very convincing."

Imagine that. These European governments were largely inclined to help out when they assumed a wide variety of nations would share the detention burden. But now that these foreign officials have heard U.S. lawmakers -- from both parties -- suddenly come to believe that Guantanamo detainees are far too dangerous for U.S. soil, their willingness to cooperate is waning.

American politicians are assuming that their constituents will never tolerate a process that allows dangerous detainees in their states/districts. European politicians are, not surprisingly, wondering how they'll respond to their own constituents about the same dynamic, especially if U.S. lawmakers are unwilling to accept any detainees at all.

This is especially true of Uighurs who were bound for Germany, which has the continent's largest expatriate community of Uighurs, and where the group would likely find temporary homes and job opportunities. German diplomats expressed a willingness to accept nine Uighurs, a position that grew stronger after a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder. The director of social services for the city of Munich said, "If the Uighurs should come to Munich, we would take care of them."

Then German officials heard rhetoric from members of Congress, which has put the arrangement in jeopardy.

Congressional cowardice has not gone unnoticed on the international stage. It's a real problem.

Steve Benen 9:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

If we didn't publish the congressional record, or allow cameras and reporters in the House and Senate chambers, Europe never would have known! This is just like releasing those torture memos -- it's just giving away info to the bad guys!

Posted by: shortstop on May 29, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

American politicians are assuming that their constituents will never tolerate a process that allows dangerous detainees in their states/districts

That assumption is probably correct. . . now that those politicians have taken a very large megaphone and vastly overinflated the threat to those constituents. Absent that shameful grandstanding, the constituents likely would have been much more rational about seeing these prisoners in much they same way they see serial killers, domestic plotters, and drug lords who are in those same domestic prisons today.

When the new Webster's comes out, I suspect this episode will for the basis for a definition of "self-fulfilling prophecy."

Posted by: zeitgeist on May 29, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

"If all 50 states in America say, 'Sorry, we can't take them,' this is not very convincing."

And some states were ASKING for them! God damn you Congress! What a disgrace.

Posted by: MNPundit on May 29, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

I forget who coined the phrase "bedwetter caucus" to describe the Dem Weenie leadership and membership in Congress, but it fits.

They've been so traumatized by Cheneyism and the Big Bad Meanies of the Right for so long, that they've forgotten how to be anything but fearful.

So have we all, apparently.

It's time to remember that we did not decend from fearful ancestors. When did we become a nation of cowards? Remember "we do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard"?

Our parents and grandparents went though horrible trials that we would apparently be too weak to survive. It would be useful to realize that they would not be proud of what we've become.

And besides, do these terror prisoners shoot lasers from their fingertips and turn our brains to mush with their powerful mind rays or something.

Good grief.

Posted by: Hemmingplay on May 29, 2009 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

I'm a Canadian and I think we should take them all. It would be fun if some became elected politicians themselves. It's like when J. Edgar Hoover asked the head of RCMP Security why Canada didn't have such a Commie problem, and got the reply, "It's because we never made them criminals."

Posted by: Bob M on May 29, 2009 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

I haven't seen anyone pick up on this, but recently a question was asked at a White House Press briefing by what I think was a German reporter . I understood it to mean Germany would take detainees if the detainees indicated that the detainees "refused" to be located in USA but were willing to be settled in Germany. In other words if everyone would just play the game correctly the detainees would "choose" not to be relocated in USA, Germany would take them, everyone happy.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on May 29, 2009 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Another problem that Obama does not need right now. Obama is playing chess - he thinks ahead - several moves at a time. The Dems who sided with the Republicans on this vote are playing checkers and are capable of thinking ahead only one move at a time. They really shot themselves in the foot with this one.

Posted by: Sheridan on May 29, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

I believe human behavior is fairly predictable across time and culture. A good legislator (or manager) would lead by anticipating unintended consequences. Which makes me wonder why a certain fringe element of our electorate seems so oblivious to the obvious. I suspect it is in their DNA to view "others" not of their mind set as a sub-species. That would explain a lot.

Posted by: Chopin on May 29, 2009 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

I keep wondering how these prisoners came to be classified as so dangerous. They have never been brought to trial. Is it public record why they were held in the first place? Everything has been so secretive. If they were tortured and obviously "brain-washed", how can anyone just assume they are guilty of whatever they are charged with. They need to be brought to the US, given good lawyers and have fair trials. Let's hear their side of the story.

Posted by: Mari on May 29, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Is all the hoopla about how dangerous these prisoners are a ploy to excuse detaining them without any human rights for so long?

If they are scary enough does that make torture more excusable?

I'd be willing to bet a high percentage are completely innocent.

Posted by: Mari on May 29, 2009 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

These European governments were largely inclined to help out when they assumed a wide variety of nations would share the detention burden.

More like campaign rhetoric of Obama and hypocrisy of Europe meets reality.

Posted by: Luther on May 29, 2009 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

I confess I have never understood why it is that the EU...I assume they have a governmental body who could issue such a statement--doesn't simply issue an edict directed towards the United States. Only two words, and they're perfect. "Oh, behave!"

Posted by: Anna Granfors on May 29, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

I see that the URL does not associate with the name so here is the link I wrote of: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/04/the_uighurs_in_their.php

Posted by: Tim on May 29, 2009 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

The Uighurs according to the Treasury Department:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury today targeted al Qaida's support network by designating Abdul Haq, the overall leader and commander of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIP), a terrorist organization designated under E.O. 13224 for its support to al Qaida. E.O. 13224 targets terrorists and those providing financial, technological, or material support to terrorists or acts of terrorism by freezing the assets of designated persons and prohibiting transactions with them. This Treasury action follows a decision by the United Nations Security Council's 1267 Committee to place Haq on its list of persons associated with Usama bin Laden, al Qaida, or the Taliban and subject to sanctions by UN member states.

"Abdul Haq commands a terror group that sought to sow violence and fracture international unity at the 2008 Olympic Games in China," said Stuart Levey, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. "Today, we stand together with the world in condemning this brutal terrorist and isolating him from the international financial system."

Abdul Haq, aka Maimaitiming Maimaiti, is the overall leader and commander of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIP), a.k.a. the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The UN 1267 Committee added ETIP to its Consolidated List of individuals and entities associated with al Qaida or the Taliban on September 11th, 2002.

As ETIP overall leader, Abdul Haq raised funds, recruited new members and further developed the terrorist organization. In early January 2008, Haq directed ETIP's military commander to attack various Chinese cities, particularly focusing on the cities holding the Olympic Games. Under Haq, trained terrorists planned to sabotage the Olympic Games by conducting terrorist attacks within China before the Olympics began.

Since late 2007, Abdul Haq sent terrorists to the Middle East to raise funds and buy explosive materials for terrorist attacks against Chinese targets outside China. Abdul Haq became the leader of ETIP following the death of the previous ETIP leader in October 2003. As of 2005, Haq was also a member of al Qaida's Shura Council.

Posted by: Tim on May 29, 2009 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

I see that my first comment was deleted. Your only reason for doing so was I provided facts that disputed your opinion. I'll write it again. The 17 Uighurs at Gitmo are associates of a known terrorist group, the ETIM, and are thus inadmissible into the United States according to Section 103 of the Real ID Act of 2005. Look it up.

Posted by: Tim on May 29, 2009 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

I see that my first comment was deleted. Your only reason for doing so was I provided facts that disputed your opinion.

Probably your links got you caught in the filter. But do continue jumping to conclusions so you can play the victim.

Posted by: Susan Johnson on May 29, 2009 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Probably your links got you caught in the filter. But do continue jumping to conclusions so you can play the victim."

Had it not first posted before disappearing a minute or two later, your excuse might be plausible. No filter works that way; it was manually removed.

[they were removed because this blog is not a forum for posting inflammatory propaganda -- mod.]

Posted by: Tim on May 29, 2009 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

My mistake, Tim. You were indeed the victim of bad moderation.

Posted by: Susan Johnson on May 29, 2009 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

Umm, Tim - the Chinese Uighurs at GITMO have been there since well before 2005. Presumably since their detention at GITMO, they haven't had much contact with Haq. So at the time of their detention, before Haq becoming part of al-Qaeda's shura council (and I'm guessing the evidence on that is like "way better" than the evidence that al-libi was a part of the Shura council, is it?) and before the real id act they didn't have associations with a designated terrorist group and if they've been pen pals with Haq while they were at GITMO, that's a sotry in and of itself.

Posted by: Mary on May 29, 2009 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Hilzoy gives a bit more detail than a lazy one like me will:

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2009/05/the-uighurs-compilation.html

Now go read the Parhat decision

Posted by: Mary on May 29, 2009 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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