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This is one of the most confusing news stories over the tax cut deal that's been written. If I'm reading it correctly, House Dems have taken their frustration over being shut out of the tax cut deal negotiations and generally dictated to by the administration over it by inserting a prohibition of funding for shutting down Guanatanamo and holding civilian trials for its detainees into the continuing resolution they passed this week.

Incensed over President Obama’s tax compromise, House Democratic leaders are showing signs of abandoning the administration and going their own way on critical issues such as national security.

In a striking move, the appropriations committee late Wednesday attached a provision to a $1.1 trillion resolution to keep the government funded next year that would prevent Obama from spending any funds to try terrorism suspects in civilian court instead of military commissions.

The language would essentially prevent the closing of the detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay.

That's what the article says, but in fact it makes no sense. While the majority of the Dem caucus is truly and vehemently opposed to the deal, a good chunk of the caucus--and particularly the progressives who are most opposed to the deal--is also supportive of closing Guantanamo and of upholding due process and holding civilian trials for detainees rather than relying on a military commissions process which still has not been fixed from the Bush era. Which makes this paragraph in the story make more sense:

Most Democrats didn’t know the provision was included in the continuing resolution until the rule for the bill hit the floor, when liberal members began defecting in large numbers. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), a leading voice on national security issues, and the four top Democrats on the Judiciary Committee found out during the vote on the rule, Moran said.

So what this is really a story about is either incompetence in leadership, or they made a stupid deal with Blue Dogs who've been fighting the closing of Guantanamo about which they didn't inform the rest of the caucus. That this was a Lame Blue Dog effort seems most likely, but it doesn't absolve leadership for letting it happen.

However it came about, it's a travesty. Imagine Dems drawing a line in the sand on one issue to the right of the administration on civil liberties. That's inexcusable and Senate leaders should cede to Attorney General Holder's demand that the the provision be removed from the continuing resolution.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 05:30 PM PST.

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