The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

GOPers Say They Won’t Take Graham’s GTMO-for-KSM Deal

Last updated: July 31, 2020 | March 08, 2010 | Thomas Dixon
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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is trying to convince the White House that the only way to win congressional Republican support for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay — or at least provide political cover to nervous Democrats — is to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a military commission. “I can’t do it by myself,” he told ‘Face The Nation’ yesterday. “But I think if we could get Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators of 9/11 back in the military commission, it would go down well with the public.”

The White House can surely cave on its plan to try KSM in civilian court, but it’s doubtful Graham can actually deliver on his end of the deal. Greg Sargent asked around GOP circles and found that Graham has practically no levers of GOP authority supporting the deal, whether inside government or outside:

Don Stewart, a spokesperson for Mitch McConnell, tells me the GOP leadership position will remain the same: Guantanamo, not a U.S.-based facility, is the right place to hold the detainees.

Michael Steel, a spokesperson for John Boehner, suggests the same: “Our focus is keeping dangerous terrorists from being brought to this country, where they will have the same rights as American citizens.”

And Liz Cheney’s group, Keep America Safe, says: No Deal. “We are concerned by reports that this will be part of a deal to close Guantanamo Bay and bring terrorists onto US soil,” a statement sent over by the group says. “We continue to call on the President to reverse his decision to close the facility.”

This might be the most unsurprising aspect of the whole prospective deal. Graham hasn’t been able to bring over any significant GOP support for a climate bill. Rather than bring Republicans along or even provide the administration cover, Graham himself has earned rebuke from his party. That might be admirable from a progressive perspective on principle. But Graham is asking the administration to compromise its principles in exchange for delivering votes that he shows no sign of being able to deliver. Why would any administration take this deal?

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