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Americans favor keeping Gitmo in business

It isn't just Congress that's stalling Barack Obama's hopes for closing the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

Ordinary Americans favor keeping Gitmo open by a two-to-one margin, according to a new USA Today/Gallup survey released today. The survey, conducted by phone among 1,015 adults, also suggests that a sizeable number think Gitmo's helped make the country safer:

By 40%-18%, [respondents] said the prison had strengthened national security rather than weakened it.

Those who want the prison to remain open feel more strongly on the subject tha[n] those who want to close it. A 54% majority of those polled say the prison shouldn't be closed, and that they'll be upset if the administration moves forward to close it."

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Ahmadinejad, Khatami in spat over who got more humiliated by the West

Mohammad Khatami isn't running for president of Iran, but the former president still seems to be constantly in the headlines these days. President Ahmadinejad recently attacked his predecessor for bringing shame on the country. RFE/RL reports:

 

The president told Iran's state radio that Khatami’s 2005 visit to France was one of the saddest days of his life, because Khatami "had to climb several flights of stairs" in the Elysee Palace to reach Jacque Chirac, the then French president.

Ahmadinejad said he found it “insulting” to Iranians.

Oh snap! But Khatami wasn't just going to take that of course:

Khatami fought back, writing in the "Hayate Nou" daily, saying that the real insult was thrown during Ahmadinejad’s trip to Columbia University in New York in 2007, when Ahmadinejad was introduced to the audience as a “cruel and petty dictator.”

As for the Elysee Palace incident, Khatami wrote that actually Chirac had descended a few flights of stairs -- breaching official protocol -- to greet him.

Between this and last week's Azeri-gate, it certainly seems as if Ahmadinejad's supporters are trying their best to keep the focus on Khatami rather than the opposition who's actually running, Mir Hussein Moussavi. It does make sense that it would be easier to attack Khatami, who is in fact quite popular and well-known in the West, as a sell-out of the Iranian revolution that Moussavi, who was a favorite of Ayatollah Khomeini and in many ways on the conservative end of the Iranian political spectrum. 

Khatami certainly has a right to defend himself from Ahmadinejad's petty attacks, but the best way for him to help the candidate he supports (who does seem to be gaining some momentum) may be to lay low for a bit. 

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