Sen. John McCain said that although the harsh treatment of detainees has ended at Guantanamo Bay, the American military prison has become a symbol regardless of how detainees are currently treated. "The harsh treatment stopped a long time ago, but it is still a symbol," he said on Face the Nation.
McCain said that, having set a target date during his earliest days in office to close the prison, President Obama has failed to formulate a comprehensive policy for dealing with those held there.
"Because of the damage that's been done by 'We didn't have a comprehensive package,' you have quite a selling job," he said. "Right now without a policy, I would not support sending them to the United States, either."
"So we find ourselves in a quandary [on how to deal with the detainees] with a public reaction, a very strong one," McCain said.
The unwillingness of some countries to accept detainees is made more difficult to overcome by the challenge finding places within the United States to house them. "The fact that we won't is a great example," he said.
He said an overall and comprehensive plan on finding a safe and secure place to house detainees is necessary to convince the public. "But to just say 'we're going to send them some place in the United States,' it arouses the obvious reaction: NIMBY, not in my back yard. And I fully understand that. I don't want them in Arizona, either!"
He admitted that he is working on a plan with the president and fellow members of Congress.
McCain did admit that President Obama "has done well" in his first 150-plus days in office.
"If you want to look at a legislative scorecard, he has achieved literally every one of his legislative accomplishments. Unfortunately, it's by picking off a couple of Republicans. It's not been bipartisan. So there really hasn't been that 'change' in the climate in Washington.
"But," he mused, "elections have consequences."
More from Face The Nation (6.21.09):
To watch Part One of John McCain's appearance on Face The Nation click on the video player below.
To watch Part Two of John McCain's appearance on Face The Nation click on the video player below.
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