The Sunday morning political shows spent some time today on a bill that was introduced in the House last week. H.R. 2294 is called the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act – OK! OK! I’m for it! With a name like that . . . .
And that’s why the bill has such a name, of course. The bill was introduced by Republican leadership to highlight some challenges that the Obama administration adopted when it pledged to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
You see, there are terrorists and suspected terrorists there. (Heck, a few people in Guantanamo may have become terrorists for being put there!) And they have to be moved. If they can’t be returned to their countries because they would be tortured or killed, they have to go somewhere else, including possibly the United States.
Now, it’s an easy out to throw up your hands and say, “Who cares if they are tortured or killed? They’re terrorists!”
Not so fast. Not all of them are. For example, it’s pretty clear that a group of Uighers, an ethnic group native to China, are not terrorists. They were picked up in Pakistan in late 2001 and have been held in Guantanamo ever since.
Is it OK to send them to China – well-known as a regime that represses minorities and dissidents – to suffer whatever punishment their government wants to mete out? It’s part of our national character not to throw innocent people into the jaws of oppression. We have to figure out what to do with people like this – in Guantanamo but not deserving of being thrown to the wolves.
So there’s complexity here. The Keep Terrorists Out of America Act would require the approval of the relevant State governor and legislature before a person is transferred there from Guantanamo. The answer, of course, is almost always going to be “Hell no!” (We’ve followed Guantanamo NIMBYism in this post.)
So what do you think about the bill? Should this law be passed so something else has to happen to the Guantanamo detainees? (vote “yes”) Or is this a political cheap-shot that muddies the debate? (vote “no”)
Here’s the current vote on H.R. 2294 is called the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act. Click to vote, comment, learn more, and edit the wiki article about the bill.