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Posted by on May 20, 2009 in Politics | 4 comments

Senate Nixes Obama’s Request For Gitmo Closure Funds

In an increasingly rare show of bipartisanship, the Senate scuttled President Barack Obama’s request for money that would have helped shut down Gitmo:

The Senate on Wednesday handed President Obama a major setback by denying him money to shut down the Guantanamo prison and block the transfer of detainees to the United States.

The sweeping 90-6 vote matches steps taken by the House of Representatives last week and signals that Obama may face an uphill battle in getting Congress to agree to close the facility.

Last month, Obama asked for $80 million for the Pentagon and the Justice Department to close the facility, which has 240 detainees, by next January. In the eyes of the world, the prison has come to exemplify harsh U.S. anti-terror tactics and detention without trial for almost all of its inmates, most of whom were captured in Afghanistan.

The administration put its Democratic allies in a difficult spot by requesting the Guantanamo closure money before developing a plan for what to do with its detainees.

But FBI Director Robert Mueller’s testimony to Congress didn’t exactly help the administration’s case:

FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress on Wednesday that bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States would pose a number of possible risks, even if they were kept in maximum-security prisons, the AP reports.

“The concerns we have about individuals who may support terrorism being in the United States run from concerns about providing financing, radicalizing others,” Mueller said, as well as “the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States.”

The bad news for the Obama administration: it lost the vote. The good news for the country: it showed the whoppingly Democratric Congress is not necessarily a rubber stamp. The bad news for the Democrats: the issue of where to put some of the most dangerous prisons will linger and while it does there will be continued tensions within Democratic ranks, as some on the left will likely clamor for Gitmo to be closed down no matter what. Democratic party bigwigs clearly saw an emotional hot button issue for the Republicans in the making and decided to defuse (or postpone) it.

Here’s liberal MSNBC talk show host’s take on the issue, centering on the political advantages (to GOPers) and dangers (to Democrats) of releasing Gitmo’s non-illustrious alumni into the U.S.:

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