Commentary Magazine


The Ultimate NIMBY Issue

Attoney General Eric Holder was grilled by a bipartisan array of senators on his promise not to release “terrorists” into the U.S. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, that depends on whether we know they are terrorists, because if so, we wouldn’t do that, says Holder. He remained agonizingly cagey on the possible release of those who received terrorist training — which leaves wide open the issue of the Uighurs. When Congress is stonewalled, the usual recourse is the power of the purse and the subpoena. But it remains unclear whether the Democratic leadership has the will to insist on some answers and place some meaningful limitations on release of the people we are talking about — starting with the seventeen Uighurs who were trained in Afghanistan as terrorists.

And now, as a preview of what is to come, the issue has made its way into the Virginia gubernatorial race. It seems some Democrats  in the blogosphere are nervous that Republican Bob McDonnell is supporting the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act. (As word has buzzed around that Virginia might be the Uighurs destination, fellow Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf  became an outspoken critic of the White House’s refusal to share its plans.) Democrats could support it too, which would void the matter as an election issue, I suppose. But if they don’t (and the three Democratic challengers, not to mention the two Virginia U.S. Senators, remain mute) then I see how it becomes a problem.

As Charles Krauthammer says:

Well, what I love is the name of the bill. Imagine if you have to vote against the Keep Terrorists out of America Act. And, you know, the mainstream media portraying this as Republicans desperately seizing on an issue as a way to embarrass the Obama administration. Well, that’s what an opposition does. And it isn’t as if terrorists running around in America is not a serious issue.

In fact, this seems destined to become an issue in every gubernatorial, House, Senate, and statehouse race. Who is going to insist the White House keep terrorists out of [fill in the community name]? And because the White House has been mum on the location of the potential release, it becomes an issue everywhere. Is it the top issue on voters’ minds? Not yet. But it will rank pretty high if the White House goes along with its plan.