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November 16, 2009

Mark Kirk's Gitmo Flip Flop
Posted by Adam Blickstein

For the first time in 8 years, America is actually going to bring the 9/11 terrorists to justice. Whether transferring them to NYC for trial, or sending them to Illinois for possible detention, the Obama administration will hold terrorists accountable for their heinous act. It will also make America safer by shutting down Guantanamo, long a top recruitment tool for extremists.

But instead of supporting this effort to replace the broken Guantanamo system (which has only yielded three convictions since 9/11 while civilian courts have convicted nearly 200 terrorists) with a judicial system we know has worked in the past, many Republicans have fallen back on their customary and caustic partisanship. In doing so, they are working overtime to undermine our national security by politicizing and fearmongering this critical issue.

Rep. Mark Kirk, fighting to be elected to Obama's former Senate seat, is leading this dangerous and counterproductive charge. Case in point, Kirk said the following in a letter he sent to President Obama reacting to the reports of detainees being transferred to the Thomson, Illinois prison facility:

"If your Administration brings Al Qaeda terrorists to Illinois, our state and the Chicago Metropolitan Area will become ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization...As home to America’s tallest building, we should not invite Al Qaeda to make Illinois its number one target...The United States spent more than $50 million to build the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to keep terrorists away from U.S. soil...Al Qaeda terrorists should stay where they cannot endanger American citizens."

Unfortunately, the Mark Kirk of this week disagree strongly with the Mark Kirk of last month. In October, he actually supported the Obama administration's position that certain detainees should be transferred to American soil for prosecution:

Last week, we got another slap at reality when Kirk apparently forgot he “supports” the Republican position on keeping Guantanamo Bay open. The U.S. House voted this week on H.R. 2892, transferring prisoners out of Gitmo. A large majority of House Republicans opposed it, but a faction of them did not. In the Illinois delegation, for example, Peter Roskam strongly opposed the legislation. However, Mark Kirk voted ...to allow the Obama administration to move foreign terrorist suspects from the Guantanamo Bay prison to the United States mainland.

Clearly, this sensible vote to strengthen America's national security in October has morphed into reckless and fear-based rhetoric as pressure on Kirk to acquiesce to the GOP's increasingly erratic base continues to possess his campaign.

The bottom line is Kirk was for bringing terrorists to America for prosecution before he was against it. And under his skewed logic from this week, the Mark Kirk of October seems to have voted to "invite Al Qaeda to make Illinois its number one target" and "endanger American citizens." Is this really who Illinois wants to send to the Senate?

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Now, according to our own U.S. Pentagon, we know that up to 20% of those released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility have returned to plotting and carrying out acts of terror. This includes those released under the former Bush Administration and those released so far by the current Obama Administration. Included in this number are 2 who assisted Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab while he was in Yemen to plan his failed Christmas Day attack over the skies of Detroit.

And implying that Gitmo is used as a recruiting tool for acts of terror is simply a non starter. Case in point - the Jordanian physician who, just last week, acted as a double agent while luring in high ranking CIA operatives and a State Dept. official to purportedly divulge information at a meeting at Forward Operating Base Chapman near Khost, Afghanistan as to the whereabouts of Ayman al-Zawahiri - and then commencing to set off his homicide-suicide explosives vest killing eight of our top notch intel agents (along with himself), and wounding six others, had stated to his terrorist handlers who repeated this after the tragic event, his motive for the attack.

His motive was the repeated unmanned aerial vehicle drone strikes that our CIA and military have been continuously carrying out in Pakistan and Afghanistan. So, following the "logic" that Gitmo is being used as a recruiting tool for increased acts of terror, I suppose we should also cease all future drone operations as well? I know for a fact that that ain't gonna happen. But, but...the UAV attacks are a terror recruiting tool! Oh, well.

Now comes word from Michael Isikoff of Newsweek that detainees inside Guantanamo Bay are seeking to have their attorney attempt to stop their transfer to any of the "supermax" detention facilities here in our U.S.

Seeing that it could cost us taxpayers up to $200 million per/year to provide the necessary added security, I'd much rather save the money and leave 'em where they're at. Not to mention, it's just not worth the risk of another "Lynne Stewart type" activist attorney who could, conceivably, act as an intermediary and transfer messages from one or more of these detainees to their co-conspirator Jihadists.

You want 'em, you pay the freight and let 'em come to a facility near you!

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