Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ritter and terror

Obama's decision to close the Guantánamo detention center and farm the prisoners out to places in the U.S. has led to a predictable free rider problem where no one actually wants nasty terrorists in their states. This makes perfect sense politically, the same way that it makes sense that Sen. Harry Reid won't support expanding nuclear power because it means more nuclear waste in Nevada. The Obama administration will send the prisoners where it needs to send them, maybe cutting deals with state politicians as necessary, even while those politicians rail against the move.

I was therefore surprised to see that Bill Ritter has invited Obama to send the terror suspects to the Supermax prison in Florence, CO:
I don't think it's appropriate for somebody like me . . . who has supported the president's decision to close Guantanamo Bay to say: "Not in my backyard."
This is the principled stance -- one might even call it a profile in courage, especially since Ritter may be facing a tough re-election fight next year and a state legislator has publicly predicted a "pipeline of terror from Kabul to Colorado" if Ritter gets his way.

Why would Ritter do this? Surely he must be aware of the big historical analogy, Colorado Gov. Ralph Carr's (at left) willingness to accept Japanese-Americans internees during WWII while other western governors resisted, a stance that likely cost Carr his job. (See Adam Schrager's wonderful biography of Carr for more details.) I certainly appreciate his principled position, but it seems like a situation where one could easily take a public position against the terror suspects coming to Colorado while ultimately relenting to it.

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