Virginia Congressman Jim Moran (D) said in a Washington Post
op-ed that his home district of Alexandria would be willing to host some of the terrorist detainees
currently held at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Moran, after acknowledging the logistical and financial burdens hosting the prisoners would place on the community, nevertheless said that Alexandria would do its "civic duty" if asked by the Obama Administration. Alexandria has hosted terrorists before, serving as the site of convicted 20th hijacker Zacharais Moussaoui's federal trial. Not phased by the experience, Moran says that Alexandria, situated right across the river from Washington D.C., is prepared to do it again.
But Moran, who was once mayor of Alexandria, should have checked with the current occupant of the office before volunteering the city for terrorist detention duties. Mayor William Euille, also a Democrat, was quoted just two months ago categorically rejecting the idea
of his city taking in terrorists from Guantanamo Bay.
"We would me absolutely opposed to relocating Guantanamo prisoners to Alexandria. We would do everything in our power to lobby the president, the governor, the Congress and everyone else to stop it. We've had the experience and it was unpleasant. Let someone else have it."
Moran's op-ed comes as Republicans in the House have introduced a bill which would prohibit the transfer of any detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the mainland United States. Dubbed the "Keep Terrorists Out of America Act," the bill would among other things block the use of federal funds to move prisoners held abroad to locations inside the country. Moran derided that effort, and the comments of those like Mayor Euille, as a kneejerk "not in my backyard" mindset not in keeping with the American ideal.
President Obama has not announced any plans for holding dangerous terrorist detainees despite ordering the closure of Guantanamo Bay by the beginning of next year. Republicans are taking advantage of the resulting confusion and anxiety over the fate of the detainees by introducing their legislation to prevent their transfer to the U.S. Moran, in volunteering his district against the wishes of his constituents, has fallen into the trap. Republicans will most certainly use Moran's op-ed against him in the mid-term elections next year. Until the Administration makes a decision on what to do with terrorists in U.S. custody, Democrats in Congress will have to choose to back either the president's goal of closing Guantanamo at any cost, or their constituents' call to keep terrorists out of their communities. Moran may have chosen poorly.
Tagged: 2010 elections
, Guantanamo bay
, Jim moran
, Obama administration
, War on terror