A former Congressman has joined with two retired generals and an Iraq war veteran in a push to pressure lawmakers to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility. The group is calling upon Congress to "ignore the scare tactics" of former vice president Dick Cheney, who they accuse of leading "a concerted right-wing smear campaign" against closure of the facility.
On Tuesday the group, called "The National Campaign to Close Guantanamo," released a 30-second ad which you can see at left. The spot will run on national television for a week at a cost of $100,000; it urges viewers to sign an open letter to Congress lobbying for the shutdown of the facility.
"President Obama said we should close it," a narrator says in the ad. "Colin Powell agrees. But Congress stands in the way, continuing to follow the failed Bush/Cheney policies."
President Obama promised to close the facility within a year of taking office, but there are questions about whether that deadline will be met amid opposition from lawmakers concerned about the transfer of detainees to prisons on U.S. soil. Though House Democrats recently blocked a Republican effort to outlaw the transfer of Gitmo detainees to the U.S., members of both parties, fearing political repercussions, have been skittish about detainees coming to their states and districts.
"We are launching this campaign to make sure that the voices of fear being led by Dick Cheney do not drown out the voices of reason that realize that Guantanamo is a failed policy and a black-eye for this nation." former Rep. Tom Andrews (D-Maine), who serves as Executive Director of the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo, said in a release.
Andrews said on a press call Tuesday that the larger campaign, of which the ad is just one part, will ultimately be in the "multi-million dollar" range.
The organization plans to target key Congressional districts as the 2010 midterm elections approach. They declined to comment on which members of Congress they will target.
The board of directors of Keep America Safe – Liz Cheney, Debra Burlingame and Bill Kristol – this afternoon emailed a response to the effort. They argued that the Guantanamo detainees are "hardened terrorists who are dedicated to killing as many Americans as possible."
"Guantanamo Bay is a secure, safe, humane facility where terrorists can be held, and when appropriate, tried," their response read, in part. "Americans expect their President to defend them from terrorists, not usher terrorists into the homeland."