Although the debate over the closing of Guantanamo is necessary and important, to be sure, I want to refocus the conversation back to the actual amendment vote, hopefully exposing the disingenuous nature of the Republican faux outrage - or is it gotcha-induced giddiness? - against Perriello. Again to recap: Last Thursday, Perriello, joined by 212 mostly Democratic colleagues, voted against Rep. Jerry Lewis' (R-CA) H.Amdt 220 added to HR 2847. Here's the amendment:
An amendment numbered 118 printed in the Congressional Record to prohibit the use of funds to implement Executive Order 13492, issued January 22, 2009, titled "Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities".Basically, Republicans did not want to release funds to shut down Guantanamo Bay, to fund the President's executive order to close the base. The amendment was voted down, 212-213, mainly along party lines, and Republican's jumped on Perriello for being arm-twisted by Pelosi, for casting the deciding vote to bring detainees to Virginia.
Just two days prior, however, the house voted for a war supplemental bill (HR 2346), and it passed, 226-202, also along party lines; Democrats generally supported the supplemental, Republicans generally didn't. There, within the bill, are several important provisions disallowing the release of detainees on US soil. Click this text link, scroll down (about a fifth or a sixth of the way) to Title III: General Provisions, This Act and let's take a look:
(Sec. 30004) Prohibits funds from this or any prior Act from being used to release an individual who is detained, as of April 30, 2009, at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, or the District of Columbia. Prohibits any such release for the purpose of detaining or prosecuting any such individual until two months after Congress receives from the President a comprehensive plan regarding the proposed disposition. Requires the plan to include: (1) the risk to national security posed by the transfer; (2) costs associated with not transferring an individual; (3) the legal rationale and associated court demands for transfer; (4) a certification by the President that any national security risk associated with a transfer has been mitigated; and (5) a certification by the President that the President has certified to the governor and state legislature of a state to which the President intends to transfer an individual that such individual does not pose a security threat to the United States.Okay, there is a lot there, and though it's relatively self-explanatory, it's still pretty dense. First, no funds can be used to release Guantanamo detainees onto US soil. Period. If the President, however, wants to prosecute or detain a prisoner on US soil, the President must first submit a plan for approval by Congress, especially assuring, among other things, against threats or risks of security. This supplemental goes further: no funds can be used to release detainees in any other country unless the President runs it by Congress.
Prohibits any funds from being used to transfer or release such an individual to the country of such individual's nationality or last residence, or to any country other than the United States, unless the President submits to Congress, at least 30 days prior to such release or transfer: (1) the name of the individual and the country involved; (2) an assessment of the risk to U.S. national security posed by the transfer or release; and (3) the terms of any agreement with another country for the acceptance of such individual, including any financial assistance related to the agreement. (emphasis mine)
Again, the language within the war supplemental bill, voted for by Perriello and Democrats, prohibits the release of detainees into the US. On the other hand, the gotcha-game amendment proposed by Republicans would have only prevented the closure of Guantanamo. The war supplemental bill passed and, of course, the prohibitions therein, although Republicans voted against the bill and its prohibitions.
In a fever of political gamesmanship, however, Republicans - knowing that two days prior Perriello voted to close these possibilities - have tried to create trumped-up charges against Perriello. And, in light of the supplemental, Republicans are now equally accountable to the same charges levied against Perriello. If I wanted to be similarly dishonest, I could say that Republicans, in voting against the war supplemental, voted against prohibitions - thereby either allowing or in favor of - releasing detainees onto US soil.