Who’s Lobbying on Guantanamo Bay?


We all know that there are lobbyists for companies and unions managing their, or their members, bottom lines. There are lobbyists on social issues and those seeking a cut of the budget pie. Truly, there are enough lobbyists in Washington to go around for any issue. So, considering the dual ObamaCheney speeches on anti-terrorism policy, specifically the future of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, I thought I’d take a look at who is lobbying around Gitmo.

Lobbying on Guantanamo Bay Policy (2009)
Name 1st Q Lobbying
American Bar Association $240,000
American Civil Liberties Union $438,418
Amnesty International $90,000
Kansas Department of Commerce $40,000
NETWORK $75,000
Open Society Policy Center $430,000
National Security Archives Fund
People for the American Way $50,000
Traditional Values Coalition $25,300

This year, there are nine registrations related to Guantanamo Bay policy. The majority of those lobbying represent human rights, liberal or legal organizations opposed to the policy of detention at Guantanamo. These groups include the American Bar Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Open Society Policy Institute, and People for the American Way.

Joining these groups in support of President Obama’s plans to close the detention center is the NETWORK lobby, a liberal catholic advocacy organization. NETWORK’s lobbying disclosure gets very specific on the policies they both support and oppose, but on the reasons why. On the policy in Guantanamo Bay they write, “NETWORK strongly opposes facilities such as the ‘prison’ at Guantanamo, where persons suspected on possible acts against the United States are held in ways which do not honor their dignity as created in the image of God, and who are disallowed what would be expected civil rights in the United States.”

In opposition to the President’s decision to close the detention center are two organizations, one state agency and one Religious Right group. The Kansas Department of Commerce, seemingly out of fear that detainees may be relocated to Fort Leavenworth, is supporting the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center Safe Closure Act (S. 291/H.R. 1069). The bill, which would require the administration to submit plans on the closure of the Guantanamo detention center to Congress, is sponsored in the Senate by both Kansas senators, Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts. The bill is seen by supporters of the President’s policy as a roadblock to relocating the detainees.

Also, supporting the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center Safe Closure Act is the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC). The TVC is headed by the Rev. Lou Sheldon, who a few years ago was revealed to have accepted large sums of gambling interest money in Jack Abramoff’s corrupt swindle of Indian tribes. The TVC web site carries many releases assailing the potential policy of releasing detainees to Fort Leavenworth and opposing the provision of welfare to terrorists (a policy I was unaware that anyone had proposed).

One other group listed as lobbying around the Guantanamo policy is the National Security Archives, a research institute located at George Washington University. Most likely the Archives are lobbying for the release of information regarding the detention center, but it is unclear from their lobbying disclosure.