Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that five men held in the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would be moved to the United States in preparation for upcoming criminal trials in New York City. Included in this group is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has claimed to be among the masterminds of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on Manhattan and Washington, D.C.

Predictably, this has led to roars of outrage from the political right (predictably, because the move was made by the Obama Justice Department, and anything done by the Obama Justice Department elicits roars of outrage from the right). Their criticism, when it is intelligible, falls into three categories. First, there is the concern that bringing a “known terrorist” to trial in New York City (or, presumably, anywhere on U.S. soil) will make that location a target for terrorist attack. Second, some conservatives are disgusted by the idea that a foreign national is being accorded the right to civilian trial, when he is actually an “enemy combatant.” Third – and I’ve sat up over beers at a bonfire recently discussing the finer points of this one – many are worried that the trial will be a “circus” that turns into an excoriation and “embarrassment” of the United States’ intelligence community, specifically, the CIA.

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Well, it looks like the ever-reliable DNC has folded on the highly-touted Obama campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay. I’m getting a little fed up with this “war on terror”-esque backsliding. The move apparently cuts $80 million from the new Defense spending bill, and it also conveniently avoids the issue of transferring detainees to U.S. soil, much to the delight of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

“We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.” Asked next, if he could see a day when Guantanamo detainees might be transferred to prisons on American soil, Reid refused to clarify his remarks. “We don’t want them around,” he said.

This reminds me a lot of a George Carlin routine I love:

From POLITICO:

In recent days, Obama has sent mixed signals himself as he sorts through the complexities of how to bring to trial the remaining prisoners. Republicans have used this confusion to play on the localized fears and emotions of voters about prisoners being transferred to prisons in their states.

UPDATE: Maureen Dowd and Mother Jones’ David Corn and Steve Aquino all decided to go with the NIMBY label on this story, too. You read it here first (although Dowd may have had her column out before I posted this).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi apparently was made aware of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in September of 2002. Or maybe she wasn’t, exactly. If she was aware of the possible use of torture, even in the near future — and even in the much more pro-torture environment of 2002 — she acted cowardly in failing to speak out against it.

Pelosi may have been briefed on enhanced interrogation techniques in 2002, but so what?

Pelosi may have been briefed on "enhanced interrogation techniques" in 2002, but so what?

Isn’t that the end of the discussion with regard to the speaker’s role? Pelosi’s credibility on torture may be ruined, but that does not in any way exonerate Republicans and the previous administration for their culpability in instituting the program, which in addition to being ineffective, is also morally reprehensible.

For some reason, though, the debate has shifted to San Fran Nan, whose public statements have never been difficult to ridicule. And as Mother Jones points out, the story of the briefings she may have recieved on the torture issue is old news — as old as anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan’s unsuccessful run against her in her hometown.

This is a rather crude attempt at political slight-of-hand that Republicans are using to try to squirm out of the heat that’s been brought down upon them following the release of the so-called Torture Memos, which detail the methods used against terror suspects such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was apparently waterboarded 183 times in the month following his arrival at Guantanamo Bay (here’s a report from Fox News explaining why that isn’t all that terrible, anyway).

The sick thing is, it’s working. We’re not talking about who authorized torture and why it was wrong, we’re talking about what Pelosi knew and when.

(By the way, -100 points to whoever wrote the headline on that MSNBC link: “Pelosi’s stands by torture statements.”)