During the defense appropriations voting that finished just hours ago, Jerry Nadler offered an amendment to prevent the further detention of Guantanamo Bay detainees that have already been cleared for release.
86 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have already been cleared for release. The government admits that these people have done nothing wrong. However, such individuals have nevertheless been subjected to torture and humiliation in prison and have been prevented from reuniting with their families.
A few months ago, the Washington Post described the situation as "Kafkaesque":
For the 86 prisoners, it’s a plight almost Kafkaesque in its cruel absurdity: though the United States believes they should be released from their concrete cells at Guantanamo Bay, they have stayed in prison, often for years, not because of any crime they committed or immediate threat they pose, but because of diplomatic and political hurdles out of their control.A number of these innocent detainees have been participating in the ongoing hunger strike in protest of their mistreatment. At the latest count, there were 69 total hunger strikers, 45 of them being force-fed (which the UN considers torture). At its height, there were 106 detainees participating in the hunger strike. I'm not sure how many of the 69 are cleared for release, but considering the indignation that such individuals cleared for release must feel, I would assume they make up a considerable share of the hunger strikers.
For the Obama administration, it’s a maze with no obvious exits: it doesn’t want to keep these prisoners locked up in Gitmo, which is politically and diplomatically costly, not to mention antithetical to Obama’s stated desire to close the prison, but Congress has forbidden the prisoners from being transferred to U.S. soil. Though the administration had searched for foreign countries to which the detainees could be released, it appears to have since given up, having closed the office responsible for finding those countries.
To repeat, this amendment sought to release people who have not committed any crimes yet are being held against their will, apart from their families and under dehumanizing conditions (such as having to face genital searches in order to talk to their attorneys).
Nadler's amendment, to my disappointment but not surprise, failed 176 to 242.
170 Democrats and 6 Republicans voted in favor of Nadler’s amendment. 220 Republicans and 22 Democrats voted against it.
The 6 Republican supporters were Justin Amash (MI-03), John Duncan (TN-02), Richard Hanna (NY-24), Walter Jones (NC-03), Tom Massie (KY-04), and Mark Sanford (SC-01).
Which 22 Democrats want to keep innocent individuals imprisoned?
Ron Barber (AZ-02)
John Barrow (GA-12)
Ami Bera (CA-07)
Andre Carson (IN-07)
Joe Courtney (CT-02)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Bill Foster (IL-11)
Pete Gallego (TX-23)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Dan Lipinski (IL-03)
Sean Maloney (NY-18)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
Bill Owens (NY-21)
Nick Rahall (WV-03)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02)
Tim Ryan (OH-13)
Bradley Schneider (IL-10)
Allyson Schwartz (PA-13)
Brad Sherman (CA-30)
Krysten Sinema (AZ-09)
Allyson Schwartz's name particularly caught my attention because she is running for governor in my home state of PA. I won't be in PA for the 2014 election and will be a registered MA voter by then. However, I don't think I could vote for her in a primary and would have to hold my nose to vote for her in a general election. Voting to keep innocent individuals in prison should be an electoral deal-breaker. At least, on the positive side, she'll be gone from Congress, and PA-13 can get a better Democrat, hopefully State Senator Daylin Leach.
The moral abomination of Guantanamo Bay has become a tool for propaganda by extremist groups. Back in April, Thérèse Postel of the Century Foundation wrote in The Atlantic about the use of Gitmo in Inspire, the English language recruitment magazine of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The White House has liked to throw the charge of "aiding the enemy" at whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden; however, the continued existence of the Guantanamo Bay Prison is actually aiding enemy recruitment.