The GOP clearly sees a chink in the Obama armor when it comes to the closure of Guantanamo Bay. A jarring new advertisement on the subject released by Senate Republicans, followed by a floor speech whacking the president from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, led, on Thursday, to its inevitable conclusion.
The office of House Minority Leader John Boehner sends over word that the Ohio Republican and GOP ranking members are "introducing a big GTMO bill today designed to stop the transfer or release of these detainees into the U.S."
Titled the "Keep Terrorists Out of America Act," the legislation would give members of Congress "an opportunity to stand with the American people by affirming their opposition to releasing the terrorists at Guantanamo prison or bringing them into the United States."
"It also makes clear that governors and state legislatures must pre-approve the transfer or release of any terrorist detainee into their respective states. And lastly it requires the President to meet strict criteria and certification standards before terrorists housed at the Guantanamo prison could be brought to the United States."
In short: Obama would be prohibited from transferring detainees to a state without that state's approval (via the governor or legislature). Congress would also have to be notified of the transfer and given assurances that it wouldn't negatively impact the state's population. Democrats in Congress haven't exactly been eager to push back on the Republican line when it comes to closing GITMO, with Majority Leader Harry Reid saying he wants to wait for a commission report on the matter before deciding the best course of policy action. But it remains something of a peculiarity as to why these elected officials are so concerned about having a detainee transferred to the military prisons in their states. These facilities, after all, already house some of the country's most dangerous criminals.
Clearly, the GOP thinks it has an opening here and, in all likelihood, there is polling data to buttress their belief (though one GOP pollster has said it is a losing issue). If anyone has recent polling numbers on the closure of GITMO and, more specifically, the sending of those detainees to U.S. facilities, pass them along.