In the February 8th edition of the Hagedorn Report, Congressman Jim Hagedorn recognized the 100th anniversary of the Department of Minnesota Veterans of Foreign Wars in House Resolution 98.
Hyping House Resolution 98 is not newsworthy. Gosh, is there any question that Dan Feehan, Tim Walz, Gil Gutknecht or Tim Penny would have offered the same resolution ?
What is newsworthy, is what Congressman Hagedorn did not cite … another resolution that he co-sponsored … House Resolution 81 – Expressing the opposition of the House of Representatives of providing the vaccination for COVID-19 for detainees at the detention facility at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Actually, the wording of NY21 Representative Elise Stefanik’s resolution puts the detainees at the end of the line — “until all Americans have had the opportunity to be vaccinated”.
Considering how this disease is spread, the goals of the COVID vaccines should be to stop “onward transmission” thus protecting our troops that are guarding the detainees.
The news media regularly provides the status of cases in the US, but we probably are not aware that COVID is exploding in Cuba. Statistics from the Cuban Public Health Ministry, the only entity that publishes COVID-19 data, show 15,168 cases were reported in January alone, more than the total reported in all of 2020.
We also know that on March 24, 2020, the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay reported its first coronavirus case, after which Pentagon ordered the base to stop reporting cases to maintain “operational security.” That March 24 case was for a sailor who was NOT involved in detention duties.
We also know that in August, 2020, the 34th Military Police Company of the Minnesota National Guard started deploying on a yearlong mission to provide security at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
We also know that in September 2020, Congressman Hagedorn received complaints from parents of deployed Minnesota National Guard “of what has been described as stringent quarantine measures being used at Guantanamo Bay Cuba effecting the recently deployed 34th Military Police.” Yep, as one parent put it, “There are states that don’t even do it to prisoners. And we are doing this to U.S. soldiers? Unacceptable.”
And we know that new National Guard units arrive roughly every 90 days to Gitmo, which means that the old units return to Minnesota … to experience a fourteen day quarantine period.
It just seems logical, that you would want to vaccinate everyone … including the detainees. After all, there are not that many. As the House Resolution states, “there are approximately 40 detainees remaining at Guantanamo;” and some of these have held there for over 17 years including five who have been cleared to be returned to another country if security concerns are met. Only seven of the remaining 40 men have been charged in the Military Commissions System, and just two have been actually convicted.
The New York Times reported that it cost more than $540 million — roughly $13 million per detainee — to keep the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, running in 2018. To which Congressman Hagedorn’s beloved President Donald Trump said , “I think it’s crazy. It costs a fortune to operate it and I think it’s crazy,”
Actually, it’s crazy not to provide vaccines to the detainees. As fifteen Senators wrote to the Trump Administration “we are concerned that our military personnel responsible for detention operations, as well as the detainees themselves, are at a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 and suffering severe health consequences.“
How many people are actually involved with day-to-day exposure to the detainees is unknown, but approximately 6,000 people live on the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, including American military personnel, their families and civilian staff. Reportedly, 1,800 troops are assigned to guard the prisoners and to handle its numerous facilities for the prisoners and for the troops. The good news is that Gitmo has an active vaccine program … targeting commissary workers, child youth program personnel, shuttle bus drivers, postal workers, etc. — BUT, they did not administer the first shot until January 27. That was over a month after Capitol Attending Physician Dr. Brian Monahan announced that Congressman Hagedorn and his staff would eligible to get the vaccine.
Instead of denying vaccines to Gitmo detainees, Congressman Hagedorn should be voicing the need to increased prioritization for our National Guard, whom States call on whenever there is a weather emergency, natural disaster or Trump riot.
Considering that a House Resolution is just a statement of desired policy, 27 Republicans have sponsored a bill … HR758 restricting the use of COVID vaccines for detainees. Congressman Hagedorn and the other Republican proposed legislation — well, to use Donald Trump’s words — “it’s crazy.“