Virginia Sen. Jim Webb is starting to position himself to the right of President Obama on national security issues. He now opposes a timeline for closing Guantanamo Bay, opposes trying terror detainees in the United States, and opposes releasing the 17 Chinese Muslims in Virginia. The administration position he defended — continuing military commissions for trying detainees — was considered a departure by its more liberal supporters.
Webb is up for re-election in 2012, but given his record there may be more going on than political considerations. Although he became a darling of the netroots for opposing the Iraq war, he has always been more hawkish than the average Democrat and left the party the first time on national-security grounds. He has continued to defend both the Vietnam War and the honor of Confederate war dead. Webb’s opposition to the Iraq invasion was always more on realist than Michael Moore-ish grounds, including his concern that regime change in Iraq would make it more difficult to contain Iran.
Incidentally, Webb’s Gitmo comments on “This Week” struck me as quite reasonable: the focus has been on the facility, but the real area of concern ought to be how inmates are processed and what procedures we are using to determine guilt or innocence. It’s never terribly bothered me that potential terrorists are incarcerated somewhere that isn’t the United States. But we should have an effective process that possesses international legitimacy to keep us from indefinitely holding innocent people.
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