Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who You Gonna Call?

Mike Rogers is quite upset about the recent decision to move some Guantanamo detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois.

How upset, you ask?

Well, perhaps Dr. Peter Venkman and his colleagues best describe Mr. Rogers' anguish.

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"? [skip]
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria.

Mr. Rogers hasn't risen to quite the same level of drama... but he's close:
Obama's decision was criticized by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, who called it a "dangerous gamble."

"Terrorists with one mission in life, to kill Americans and destroy America, do not belong in state prisons, no matter whether it is Michigan, Kansas, Illinois or any other state," Rogers said.

Apparently Mr. Rogers has no confidence in federal law enforcement and corrections personnel.

Nor does he seem to know that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, there are already 216 international terrorists and 139 domestic terrorists housed in maximum security facilities, some of whom have been there since the 1990s. Fred Kaplan of Slate Magazine wrote about these prisoners back in the springtime, and he could have been talking about Mr. Rogers (or his heart-palpitatin' colleague Pete Hoekstra) when he wrote this:

Maybe these people don't understand what life is like in these "supermax" prisons. Take ADX Florence, the supermax in Colorado—"the Alcatraz of the Rockies"—that serves as the home to Omar Abdel-Rahman, the "blind sheikh" who organized the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the Sept. 11 plotters; Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber; Theodore Kaczynski, the "Unabomber"; and Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City bombing, to name a few.

These are all truly dangerous people, but it's not as if they run into one another in the lunch line or the yard. There is no lunch line; there is no yard. Most of the prisoners are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. For one hour, they're taken to another concrete room, indoors, to exercise, by themselves. Their only windows face the sky, so they have no way of knowing even where they are within the prison. Phone calls to the outside world are banned. Finally, the prison is crammed with cameras and motion detectors. Compartments are separated by 1,400 remote-controlled steel doors; the place is surrounded by 12-foot-high razor-wire fences; the area between the wire and the walls is further secured by laser beams and attack dogs.

Got that?

Mr. Rogers has spent nearly a decade on the House Intel Committee; he's also a former FBI agent. You;d think that his national security expertise would outweigh his political concerns.

Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Rogers' main contribution to our nation's security? That would be his tireless efforts to predict doooooooom in front of any available microphone or tv camera. He pitched a fit about Mirandizing terrorists -- and pretty much called the Director of the FBI and General David Petraeus liars. He blamed Congress for not paying attention to Iran's nuclear buildup, conveniently forgetting that he is IN Congress and has been on the House Intel Committee since he was first elected in 2000. He got in a lather about the decision to discontinue the Eastern European missile defense shield, but he still hasn't asked those "very tough questions" he promised.

Mr. Rogers is unstinting in his efforts to get good media coverage -- but when it comes to the hard work of making sure our country is safe, he's kind of a marshmallow.

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