THE BLOG

Guantanamo - No Democracy In My Back Yard

05/19/2009 09:50 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Harry Reid deserves to go hunting with Dick Cheney. The two of them, after all, are ideological compatriots. When all is said and done, they both think that the 'war' on terrorism is worth fighting with soldiers, abroad, but neither - it appears - is willing to back that up in their own backyards. They would apparently rather that see Guantanamo Bay stay open then imprison its inmates within the confines of the democracy that took them prisoner. According to Senator Reid, "We don't want is [sic] them to be put in prisons in the United States. We don't want them around the United States." Too damn bad!

Prior to the Bush administration's workaround of our legal system, this never would have been an issue. Prisoners of war would have been brought back to the United States because there would simply be no choice. Not only would they have been on our territory, but they also would have also been clearly subordinated to our legal system. And that's brilliant. You and me - all of us - want to live in a country where we are all bound by a single code of law. Without that assurance, democracy is about substantial as soggy Kleenex.

Closing Guantanamo Bay is a symbolic and literal return to the rule of law. In defense of that principle, we should be willing to defend our democracy by allowing dangerous people to be incarcerated on our actual territory. That means that I'm willing to have current inmates of Guantanamo Bay incarcerated at federal penitentiaries in New York: Dick Cheney, Harry Reid and all the members of Congress should be ready, willing and able to do the same. The US, after all, already locks up a greater percentage of its citizenry than any other free society in the world. (If there's one thing that we in the US know how to do, it's lock people up.)

At the end of the day, this is not really a question of whether or not Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell are ideological twins. It's about whether or not the same political leaders who speak so glibly about the sacrifices of our troops abroad are willing to ask their electorate to make a low risk, symbolic gesture in support of the same objective. If the alternative is this sort of populist pandering, maybe all of Congress should go hunting with the former Vice President.