The U.S. Senate voted 90-6 to deny funding for President Barack Obama’s plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, following the lead of the U.S. House of Representatives. Both Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) voted with the majority.
President Obama had made it campaign promise to shut down Gitmo, but concerns had been expressed that closing facility and bringing the 240 detainees to the United States mainland could pose a national security threat. Senator McCaskill says Democatic Party denial of funding should not be viewed as support for keeping open the prison.
“I don’t think that the fact that the money was pulled out in the House and now has been pulled out in the Senate is an indication that we want to keep Guantanamo open,” said McCaskill. “I think it is more of an indication that the planning process is taking longer than anticipated.”
Senator Bond doesn’t want the detainees returned to the United States, and believes many of the Democratic Capitol Hill lawmakers heard from the folks back home that bringing these individuals into the U.S. goes against the will of the American people.
“They either saw the light or felt the heat and I think they felt the heat,” said Bond. “Because this is not a political issue, it’s an American issue.”
McCaskill says if the detainees are brought to the United States, this country could certainly deal with that reality.
“I’m not saying that we should bring them to Missouri,” said McCaskill. “I’m saying that in our country we keep bad guys locked up safely.”
Bond feels there is no need to shut down the prison at Guantanamo, and hopes the President comes to realize that.
“This is another case where the President needs to concede that campaign politics have met national security realities,” said Bond. “And national security is more important.”
Negotiations have been underway in an effort to convince European nations to accept some of the detainees, but that effort is not yet bearing fruit.