Since President Obama announced his goal to shut down the Guantanamo prison, conservatives have fearmongered that it would mean terrorists would be coming to Americans’ “backyards.” On the Senate floor this morning, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said that her state’s prisons were “eminently capable” of housing detainees, and slammed conservatives for “fear-baiting”:
FEINSTEIN: Yes, we have maximum security prisons in California eminently capable of holding these people as well, and from which people — trust me — do not escape. So I believe that this has really been an exercise in fear-baiting. I hope it’s not going to be successful.
By contrast, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) declared that the naval brig in Charleston, SC — where officers are trained specifically to deal with terror detainees — is an unsuitable place for detainees “because it’s near a population center.” Recently, a small town in Montana voted unanimously to request that 100 detainees be sent to its empty prison, as a way to stimulute economic development.
The amendment barring the use of funds to transfer detainees to the U.S. was approved 90 to 6. Both Sens. Feinstein and Durbin — despite their arguments that the U.S. is “eminently capable” of housing detainees — voted in favor of the amendment. They have indicated they are waiting for a plan from Obama before releasing funds to shut down Guantanamo.