McDonnell opposes establishing a prison for Guantanamo prisoners in Virginia.

Bob McDonnell says he opposes transferring Guantanamo Bay prisoners into any Virginia facilities. For the record, I’d be perfectly happy to have them in Virginia. Hell, I’d be happy to have them right here in Albemarle County, in any place that’s appropriate for a prison facility of that size.

McDonnell describes these guys as “some of the most dangerous men in the world,” but I call bullshit. Though some small fraction of these guys might be dangerous in the abstract—you probably wouldn’t want them on the loose around a bunch of allies with access to weapons—most of that subset is surely significantly less dangerous than some of the violent felons in our most secure facilities. We’re holding a bunch of these guys because it’s not safe for them to send them home, but no other country wants them. Others are pussycats who despise the U.S. and would love to see it violently overthrown. If I’ve got a choice between living near a prison that houses guys who rip off old ladies faces and wear them like ski masks and some dude being held because this other guy who once knew his old roommate says that he once worked as a driver for a guy who knew Osama bin Laden, I know which one I’ll pick.

For a guy who says he supports creating jobs in Virginia, McDonnell sure isn’t doing much for the employment of prison guards or construction workers.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

10 replies on “McDonnell opposes establishing a prison for Guantanamo prisoners in Virginia.”

  1. If you look at the WaPo article on the subject, it consists mostly of Alexandria Democratic officials saying they don’t want this to happen because the logistics of the security are a major pain for the surrounding area, and McDonnell and the other Republicans saying these guys are supervillains we should all be terrified of having on the same continent with us. Very telling.

    I’m long past being sick of politicians believing they’re establishing their “toughness” by doing the terrorists’ work for them, telling us to piss our pants in fear of them. I’m not afraid, and it’s very clear that appeals to fear make bad policy.

  2. “consists mostly of Alexandria Democratic officials saying they don’t want this to happen because the logistics of the security are a major pain for the surrounding area”

    I call bullshit on the Alexandria Democrats. We stored Zacarias Moussoui in Alexandria for a while, and neither the sky nor any buildings fell.

  3. McDonnell describes these guys as “some of the most dangerous men in the world,” but I call bullshit.

    And your bullshit call is based on…. some firsthand knowledge of the criminals in question?

  4. The job of the Governor of Virginia is to keep the citizens of our state safe and secure. As Governor I will take all prudent actions to ensure that the terrorists and enemy combatants from Guantanamo Bay never step foot on Virginia soil.–Bob McDonnell

    Gee Bob, real soldiers already did the heavy lifting and rounded these boys up, seems like the least you could do was support the war effort, lead by example, and encourage all Virginians to do the same.

  5. I.Publius: Actually, Waldo is right. And yes, I do base that off first-hand knowledge of the criminals in question. You can thank me later.

    For the record, three of mine are currently awaiting sentencing from military tribunals for being bad, bad, men. The other guy, we really shouldn’t have picked him up. It happens in any war- people get scooped up on masse. Usually the military sorts through them, gives them an MRE and sends them on their way, but this war has been so different (example: part of the reason we brought the Uighurs to Gitmo was the fact that we literally could not find a trustworthy translator for them, since they don’t speak Arabic, anywhere but the States/Gitmo), that we didn’t do that this time. Another issue is that the Afghan tradition is to simply execute prisoners of war, not hold and detain them. We were literally paying the Afghans money for anyone they captured, both for the interrogation opportunities, and so that they wouldn’t be executed. You’re not going to kill your prisoner if you get money to turn him in alive.

    The issue is far more complicated than McDonnell, Waldo or any commentator here has made it. The issue with them coming to the US is not that they would blow things up. The issue (one of the issues) is that once they enter US territory, they get all the rights and privileges under the Constitution that US citizens get. Coming into the US changes the entire ball game, dramatically.

    Right now, in GITMO, we only know for sure about a limited number of rights (remember, Boumediene was a suspension clause case). If it were up to me, I’d say that the gov’t should take the initiative to bring select people into the States (such as the Uighurs), taking into account excludable alien law and all the attendant issues. Otherwise, the courts are going to do it, and it will be better for the government to have its own program without the judicial precedent binding them. But they won’t, so they will, and it won’t be pleasant. See e.g., Kiyemba v. Obama.

    The biggest, biggest problem, though, is that we as a nation have lost a lot of credibility with regards to detainee release. The European community has insinuated or flat out told us in some cases that they want us to take a few detainees in before they will take in any (France is one such country). We need to take decisive leadership, including some kind of release or imprisonment in the states, before we can expect Europe to take up our burden.

    Also, I might remind you all that Hamdi, of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld fame, was actually being kept in our brig in South Carolina. Notice how South Carolina is still there.

  6. The issue is far more complicated than McDonnell, Waldo or any commentator here has made it.

    Can I get a “hell yeah”? My addressing this in the form of a dashed-off blog entry is far from exhaustive. I’ve read hundreds of pages on this topic—clearly less than you, Genevieve :)—which is more than enough to know that I’ve got no business writing anything deeper than something of this caliber. Plus, I’m Just Some Dude™. I’m not running for AG. McDonnell’s goal is to frighten people. My goal is to get a conversation going.

  7. “which is more than enough to know that I’ve got no business writing anything deeper than something of this caliber”

    Oh! I didn’t mean to imply that you were, like, wrong or shouldn’t be writing or whatever… I just don’t want people who are less familiar with the topic to think that it’s just that terrorists are coming to kill us all. McDonnell has no business saying that that’s the issue. It’s insulting to those that have dedicated huge chunks of their professional careers to this fight, on either side. (Look, if gov’t attorneys who are actually trying to do good work get fatwas put on their heads, if defense attorneys get hurt by their clients and risk going to Afghanistan to help? You get to show the respect of getting your facts straight, ok, politicians?).

    Also, if I may be a pretentious name-dropping jerk, Charlie Swift told me today over lunch that he thinks one of the keys to getting this mess resolved is starting a dialogue like this blog. We need our leaders to see what the real issues are, to be called out on crap like this, and to understand that certain types of action (like conditionally releasing the Uighurs into the United States) need to happen- once they see that it’s what is necessary and that there won’t be a huge political backlash, they’ll do it. Once we see that these people, and we must start with the Uighurs, having been conditionally released into the US (or imprisoned as detainees in Virginia) don’t actually cause any more harm than they did down in Cuba, then we’ll actually get somewhere beyond the good versus evil rhetoric to understand the realities that yes, some detainees are evil incarnate and some are not.

    Here’s the thing- the detainees who are evil incarnate? They’re PROUD Of it! They will tell you within thirty second of capture that they swore bayat to UBL, that they bombed buildings, and that they’re gonna bomb your infidel ass into hell if you’d just let them go. Part of being willing to blow yourself up for Allah or being a wealthy terrorist mastermind is not being shy about it.

    Example from Charlie: Charlie had a client, named Salim Hamdan. He was UBL’s driver. Charlie got access to a high value detainee, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who, we can all agree is a very bad man. Evil incarnate. And he said he was too, even pre Abu Ghraib. KSM was UBL’s number 2. On the terrorist org chart, it’s UBL, then KSM. Ok? So KSM says to Charlie, “Salim? He’s a driver! He’s barely fit to change tires!” (I paraphrase, but he really said the changing tires part.)

    Oh, and PS, Bob, we stopped using the term “enemy combatant” in March. Try keeping up with the law before preaching about it, mk, pumpkin? We could have a whole discussion about how it’s really only a cosmetic change, but your inability to keep up with the legal terms of art means that you’re just talking without actually bothering to keep up with and have an intelligent understanding of what you’re talking about.

  8. Spent nuclear fuel would be pretty safe under Yucca Mtn., NV, but Harry Reid doesn’t want it there.

    Same dynamic at play.

  9. Oh stick ’em at Red Onion or Wallens Ridge–two supermax prisons that we didn’t need and were only built to satisfy George Allen, Bob McDonnell and their ilk’s egos and political agenda. For a long time we filled them with “foreign” prisoners from Connecticutt, New Mexico, etc. They are located in remote areas of Southwestern Virginia that also suffer from serious unemployment. The Feds play much more than the cost of maintaining them. Let’s put those white elephants to use.

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