"Imagine waking up on a Saturday morning, sitting down for breakfast, and seeing an op-ed in your hometown newspaper where your local congressman lays out the welcome mat for terrorists such as Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and Abu Zubaydah, who personally trained some of the 9/11 hijackers."
That's what Democratic Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia did in a Washington Post op-ed approving of a plan to try the terrorists in a federal courtroom in Alexandria. "I am confident that Alexandrians will stand strong as they always have: gritting their teeth, stiffening their spines," Moran wrote.
That's not what Alexandria's mayor, William Euille, thinks. Two months ago, he said the city just across the Potomac River would be "absolutely opposed" to the idea.
One by one, the National Republican Congressional Committee has been lobbing similar political broadsides at key House Democrats in their districts, challenging them to "take a stand" on the issue. The headline on a typical press release sent into Democratic Rep. Chet Edward's district: "Edwards fails to protect Texans from getting terrorists as neighbors."
Or this release aimed at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords: "Where does Gabby Giffords stand on keeping terrorists out of Arizona?"
House Republicans have also introduced the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act, which forbids moving any of the Guantanamo prisoners into the United States -- adding another pressure point on Democrats hoping to sidestep the issue for as long as possible.
But this issue isn't going away anytime soon, and Republicans are more than happy to keep it going into next year's elections. Obama has put Democrats into an uncomfortable position from which there is no easy exit -- though some Democrats privately talk of keeping Guantanamo open, at least until after next year's elections.
Meantime, Republican leaders continue to pound the president and his party on an issue that is gaining traction and shows signs that it is hurting Democrats.
"The American people want to keep the terrorists at Guantanamo out of their neighborhoods and off the battlefield," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a floor speech last week.
"At this point, the only way we can assure them that neither one of these things will occur is for the administration to keep this secure facility open until it develops a sensible plan for the Congress to evaluate," he said.
For now, however, the only sensible plan is to keep this prison facility open and its prisoners far from our shores.
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