Aug 19, 2009

Right wing performance art featured at committee meeting

LANSING – In an out of control Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, the committee approved a pair of Senate Resolutions to ask the President and Congress to declassify intelligence information regarding the Gutantanamo Bay detainees before a decision is reached to house them at the soon-to-be-closed Standish Maximum Correctional Facility in northeastern Michigan.

Originally, only two items were supposed to be on the agenda; a pair of non-binding resolutions that “affirm Michigan’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” That resolution has been a rallying point for years for the extreme right-wingers, and the audience was made up primarily of “tea baggers” and “birthers.”
But committee chair Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, introduced the two resolutions on the Senate floor earlier in the morning, and they were considered a few hours later. U.S. Rep. Pete “Twitter” Hoekstra, R-Holland, a critic of housing the detainees in Michigan and a candidate for Michigan Governor, testified for most of the meeting.

The ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, he said he had info that no one else had on the prisoners, and they were too dangerous to be in a Michigan community like Standish. I’m not sure how much different Standish would be when you consider how many Navy families live at Gitmo. Hoekstra also said there were legal questions that needed to be addressed.

“We do know that when we move them onto U.S. soil, they receive some of the same civil rights U.S. citizens have,” he said. “We are unclear what civil liberties they have in Gitmo.”

Federal officials toured the prison in Standish this week as a potential place for Guantanamo Bay detainees, and the President has vowed to close the prison there because it stands as a symbol of oppression to the rest of the world and mars the America’s reputation as a beacon of freedom.

Last week, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Corrections Reform held a hearing on the question, but they had both opponents and supporters of the plan testified, including Standish residents, the city manager and county commissioners. The Senate hearing had just Hoekstra and a few “tea baggers” there for the 10th Amendment show who testified.

The Republicans used the show to take numerous shots at the President and Democrats.

“The President is going to have to come up with some convincing answers as to why Gitmo should be closed and why they should come to Michigan,” said Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, and one of the most rightwing members of the Senate.

Although this was clearly a show and the Republican’s minds are already made up, Democrats supported the concept of getting more information.

“I’m going to support this, but it is with some angst,” said Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing. “The money we will receive is not the bottom line, and we need to have a robust debate; but I was just handed this a few hours ago on the floor.”

There are supposed to be no demonstrations at committee meetings, but Kuipers let that go on, as well as attacks on Democratic members. Sen. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit, brought up the irony that information on Gitmo has been restricted to just the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee, but the resolution is asking that same info be released to the entire Michigan Senate. That brought an unprovoked and unbelievable attack by Sen. Bruce Patterson, R-Canton, that Clarke was trying to make it partisan. Like the show put on by the Republicans was not partisan.

“I try to keep an open mind, but I don’t appreciate these personal attacks,” Clarke said.

Rochester Hills “tea bagger” Jeff McQueen made the unbelievable and racist point that Michigan should be the last place to consider housing Gitmo detainees because of the large Arab-American population in Dearborn.

“A cell of Middle Eastern men would stick out like a sore thumb in Utah, but not in Dearborn,” he said.

That brought a rebuke from Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, who said as a retired Ford employee he has spent lots of time in Dearborn, and said the most dangerous terrorists before 9/11 was Tim McVeigh.

“I have lived and worked in the Downriver area for more than 30 years, including Dearborn, and I have never met a terrorist,” he said.

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