The Battle Over Detainees

by Chris Bodenner

I second Patrick in my excitement to blog alongside three brilliant minds this week. I hope to supplement their posts as best I can with follow-up links, blog commentary, and reader email.

I do have one particular topic I'd like to highlight this week, one that's flown a bit under the Dish radar lately: detainee transfers. It is a topic I've written about before and now suddenly back in the news. On May 7, the House GOP submitted a bill called the "Keep Terrorists Out Of America Act," which prevents Obama from transferring detainees to a US prison without permission from the governor and the state legislature. Libertarian Steve Chapman makes a good point regarding this sudden shift on executive authority:

It seems like only yesterday conservatives were intent on upholding the powers of the commander-in-chief against encroachment by 535 armchair generals. I'm trying to imagine the reaction if, after the 9/11 attack, Democrats had proposed legislation requiring the president to get a state's consent to send its National Guard troops to Iraq.

The bill is basically a de facto ban, since few elected officials are willing to vote for a transfer and face the kind of fear-mongering, 24-style ads already unleashed by the GOP. In fact, the controversy has already started to roil a Senate race in Kansas and a gubernatorial race in Virginia. And the Senate this week is voting on a war-funding bill that includes $80 million to close Gitmo - money Republicans have threatened to oppose. Such political pressure has even caused some prominent Democrats to back away from the president's policy.

As Andrew noted yesterday, Obama has done a lot to defang Cheneyism; he has postponed an exit in Iraq, retained Gates, increased troop levels in Afghanistan, elevated McChrystal, kept rendition, revived military tribunals, and punted on the torture photos. So what's left for Rove Republicans to latch onto? I think we already got their answer: