Yesterday, Congressional Democrats denied President Obama, at least for now, the funds he needs to close down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They were responding in part to scare tactics from Republicans, who have been insisting for months that Obama's plan will bring terrorists to American cities. But they were also upset that Obama hadn't used his bully pulpit to counter those charges. Today, Obama did just that:
Some have derided our federal courts as incapable of handling the trials of terrorists. They are wrong. Our courts and juries of our citizens are tough enough to convict terrorists, and the record makes that clear. Ramzi Yousef tried to blow up the World Trade Center - he was convicted in our courts, and is serving a life sentence in U.S. prison. Zaccarias Moussaoui has been identified as the 20th 9/11 hijacker - he was convicted in our courts, and he too is serving a life sentence in prison. If we can try those terrorists in our courts and hold them in our prisons, then we can do the same with detainees from Guantanamo.
For more on this point, read this primer written by the National Security Network. And as Ken Gude of the Center for American Progress told me yesterday, Obama can still take near-term steps to begin closing the facility, and then return to Congress for funding in July, when his task force completes its comprehensive report on everything that policy will entail.