October 6, 2015

Coloradans Pan Gitmo Proposal That Sen. Bennet Paved The Way For

The Colorado Springs Gazette editorial board echoed the concerns of citizens and elected officials across the state who are deeply opposed to the Obama administration’s proposal to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to sites in Colorado:

President Barack Obama, don’t import terror suspects to Cañon City or Florence. We don’t want them in our homeland, much less in Colorado.

The editorial includes statements from Colorado politicians like Sen. Cory Gardner, who called the proposal “irresponsible,” Rep. Mike Coffman, who said it was “outrageous,” and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who described the suggestion as “illegal.”

Sen. Michael Bennet’s statement was considerably more muted, mildly stating that the Department of Defense has “made no case that it makes sense” to transfer the detainees.

What gives? Bennet, facing low approval ratings and a tough reelection, clearly feels compelled to pay lip service to opposing something sure to be deeply unpopular with just about everyone. But he knows he has to walk a fine line given his voting record. The Washington Free Beacon reported:

However, Bennet has not supported legislation that would have blocked the administration from transferring any Gitmo detainees to the United States.

Bennet voted against an amendment in November 2013 that would have prohibited moving any detainee to the United States for one year. He voted against similar amendments in 2012 and 2009, which would have blocked funding towards transferring prisoners at Gitmo.

He voiced support in May 2009 for withholding funding used to transfer detainees to a Supermax prison in Colorado, but voted to table an amendment that November that would have done so. The amendment would have blocked funding to “construct or modify a facility in the United States or its territories to permanently or temporarily hold any individual held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

Sen. Bennet is finding out the hard way that votes cast to appease President Obama and the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill are likely to come back to haunt him with voters at home.