100 less days to find a Gitmo solution

April 29, 2009

mcconnell2Mitch McConnell is the Senate Republican Leader. Any opinions expressed are his own.

From the first moments of the Obama Administration, continuing through today, its 100th day, Senate Republicans have pledged to work closely with our new president to find solutions to the many foreign policy challenges we face. As our armed forces continue to wage two wars overseas, Republicans believe it’s important to work with the new administration to advance a foreign policy agenda that protects the American people and furthers our interests abroad.

So far, there have been two major points of convergence. Republicans agree with the President’s strategies in Iraq and in Afghanistan, where the new administration has agreed in both cases to closely follow the best advice of our military commanders on the ground. We part ways, however, with the administration’s proposal to close the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by an arbitrary date in January 2010, before it even has a plan for the 240 terrorists who are there.

To date, the Administration has not provided the American people with any specifics about what will happen with these inmates once this arbitrary January deadline arrives, or how transferring or releasing these men will keep our country as safe as Guantanamo has. The American people don’t want murderers back on the battlefield, where they can plan future attacks. And they certainly don’t want these men released into their neighborhoods, as some in the administration have shockingly proposed, according to news reports.

Guantanamo holds some of the most dangerous men alive, including Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of the September 11th attacks. This man, who bragged about decapitating the American journalist Daniel Pearl, openly expresses his desire to kill more innocent Americans. Another Guantanamo detainee is Abd Al-Rahim Al Nashiri, the mastermind behind the attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 U.S. sailors in 2000. Of the more than 800 men who have been held at Guantanamo over the years, the ones who remain clearly represent the “worst of the worst.”

The administration has not been all that clear about its reasons for closing Guantanamo before it has a plan for these detainees. The reason isn’t that Guantanamo is unsafe or unsecure, since no one disputes that it is. The reason isn’t that the facility is poorly run, since Attorney General Holder, the man in charge of carrying out the closure of Guantanamo, has said himself that the facilities there are good ones. Finally, the reason isn’t that the administration has a better or an equally safe alternative.

Once the administration does present an alternative, the American people will need assurances that this alternative will keep them as safe as Guantanamo has. The American people will also need to know that trained terrorists currently held at Guantanamo won’t end up in their communities. If they are released in American communities, the administration will have much to explain — particularly since the U.S. Senate has spoken overwhelmingly on this issue: two summers ago, the Senate voted 94-3 against sending terrorist inmates to United States soil — even if it only meant sending them to our most secure prisons.

On matters of national security, the new administration’s most important commitment should be to keep the American people safe. On Guantanamo, it has missed the mark, just as it did when it recently released classified CIA memos on U.S. interrogation methods. Not only does releasing these memos enable Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to prepare for capture, it also runs the serious risk of demoralizing our intelligence community which plays an indispensible role in the global fight against terrorism and which should not expect reprisal for good-faith efforts to protect Americans from harm.

When the administration fulfills its commitment to protect Americans, as it has on Iraq and Afghanistan, it can count on strong Republican support. But if any proposal endangers Americans, it will meet strong Republican opposition.


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I completely agree with senator McConnell. Closing “GITMO” is the dumbest thing we could do. I am a combat veteran and I can tell you, the first thing those prisoners will when they are released is join back up with their terroist buddies and start planning their next attack. These “Terrorists” are not locked up for no reason. Everyone of them is a threat to this nations security. They should have already been tried, convicted and executed. The only thing the Obama administration has done so far is to make this country less safe, and put us deeper in debt. Instead of running around apologizing to all these countries who would love to do harm to the United States, he should be concentrating on our nations security. But what can you expect from someone who has never served in the Armed Forces, faced the enemy and seen what they’re capable of. The terrorists don’t care about us. If you are not like them then you are the enemy, and they will do whatever it takes to destroy you, and until Obama and his band of non-tax paying misfits figure that out our nations security is at risk.

Posted by RD LOW | Report as abusive

Gitmo should not exist in the first place. If there is no Gitmo in the first place, where should the Americans take their POW’s ? Home! This is the price you should pay.

Posted by Lee Siu Hoi | Report as abusive

I think the detainees should be forced to watch cable news 24/7 for 14 days.

They will confess.

Posted by phoenix1 | Report as abusive

I agree, this facility should not exist in first place. Those men are kept there without a trial. Who convicted them, some CIA agent? This just shows US Govt. doesn’t treat everyone equal.

Posted by Alex | Report as abusive

So RD LOW, you have first hand knowledge of these detainees crimes. Are you an eye witness to their acts of terror? Or are you simply recounting the testimony of their captors who sold them to the CIA? Having worked in criminal justice I know first hand how unreliable confessions and hearsay evidence is. Particularly in the light of torturing people for confessions. I bet you would admit to being George Washington to get the torture to stop.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

I love it when people start chanting mantras about “they are being held without a trial!!!” (reminds me of the never-forgotten “BUSH LIED” barks), giving military combatants all the rights so quickly shat upon, that is, the bill of rights.

These are not American citizens, they are terrorists. You do realize that, right? I don’t want to recommend you watch a beheading video on the internet to get some perspective, but you can’t possibly be that obtuse to think these are normal small-time criminals who were caught with a joint at a routine traffic stop do you?

I find it amusing how all of this has played out though. There was a huge drum beat to close Gitmo from the beginning, and when the O-Administration suggests initial ideas, they include that the prisoners could be released as free citizens… then when the public flips out and they quickly retort with, “just kidding!”

Have you heard someone say something such as, “Wow you look really fat today… just kidding!!”? Some use the “quick reversal apology” technique to judge a comments sting, in this case, how fat their friend is. They are abusing their friend knowing that if they quickly apologize for the comment, they cannot be held accountable for saying it because its now under the guise of an apology. In the end, they still got to say what they felt and also now know how their friend will react to it.

In the case of this administration, they say “we hope to release them…” and just as quickly as they see the shocked looks and open jaws from the American public before their eyes, they quickly retort with a smile, “ummm… just kidding!!”.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Our foreign policy is one of our biggest flaws as a nation.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

So ANUBIS, your saying that you’ve actually tortured suspects to get confessions?? Since you have worked in criminal justice right. And YOU obviously have first hand knowledge that they were sold to the CIA–right.The city streets are a little different than war my friend, and the sooner people like you quit feeling sorry for these TERRORISTS, the better off we’ll all be. Your probably one of these people who complains that it takes to long to get through airport security these days. If it wasn’t for people like ME, who have served this country, and who believe you do whatever it takes to protect this country, people like you would’nt be able to cry about the rights of some puke who wants to kill you and your family. It’s amazing how soon people forget September 11. How many lives would’ve been saved had we got ahold of some of the TERRORIST pilots before they crashed those planes. But I guess we should have offered them a nice dinner with drinks and a massage, then they probably would have told us everything–right.

Posted by RD Low | Report as abusive