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Webb Says No to Detainees in Virginia

Amy Gardner

Virginia's senior U.S. senator, Democrat Jim Webb, told George Stephanopoulous of ABC's "This Week" yesterday that he opposes the release of detainees from the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, onto U.S. soil.

Webb's remarks added to the chorus of Virginia political leaders who have positioned themselves against the possibility that as many as 17 Chinese Muslims known as Uighurs might be released into a Uighur community in Fairfax County.

"It can be argued that they were simply conducting dissident activities against the government of China," Webb said. "On the other hand, they accepted training from al-Qaeda, and as a result, they have taken part in terrorism. I don't believe they should come to the United States."

The 17 Uighurs have been ordered released by a federal court, and Webb said they deserve due process. Their case has illuminated the complexity of some of the legal cases pending at Guantanamo. Some advocates say the Uighurs are innocent of any association with terrorist acts against the United States -- and must not be turned over to China, where they face possible persecution. But others say the fact of their training with terrorist makes them a risk.

Webb's endorsement of that view yesterday represented a change of position since Friday, when his office released a statement saying the senator was aware of community concerns about the issue but would wait to see what President Obama would propose.

Separately, Webb said he supports Obama's plan to re-establish military tribunals to try some of the detainees, many of whom could not be prosecuted in open courts because classified information could not be introduced.

By Amy Gardner  |  May 18, 2009; 9:39 PM ET
Categories:  Amy Gardner  
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Comments

The Obama Administration continues to live up to the "Amateur Hour" tag.....ready-shoot-aim approach to foreign policy is a loser. Great proclamations followed by figuring out what he just said and how to pull it off....nice joke on America getting this clown elected..."change" is here.

Posted by: powerange | May 19, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Very disappointing to see Webb so misinformed. The group that the Uighurs "trained" with was designated a terrorist group based on pressure from the Chinese government, no independent group supported the designation. (It was widely suspected at the time that the designation was made to placate China so they would not veto the Iraq War resolution.) The group became affiliated with al-Qaeda years after these detainees were associated with them, so the claim that they were trained by al-Qaeda is absolutely false. There is no evidence they took part in any violent activity, or that they received "training" in anything more than how to shoot a rifle. Under the *Bush Administration* it was determined that there was no evidence to justify holding them.

We have gone from criticizing China for detaining political prisoners indefinitely without charges to *doing it for them.* It is absolutely disgraceful.

Posted by: jimeh | May 20, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

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