McConnell: Americans Want Answers on Guantanamo

Americans want to know that on the issue of Guantanamo the administration is as concerned about safety as it is about symbolism. They’re concerned about the administration’s plans for releasing or transferring some of the most dangerous terrorists alive’

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday regarding Guantanamo and the lack of response from the administration on their intentions for the detainees:

“It should be clear to everyone at this point that the administration got ahead of itself by announcing an arbitrary closing date for Guantanamo before it even drew up a list of safe alternatives. So I rise this morning to express my continuing concerns about the administration’s apparent lack of a plan for detainees at this facility and to press the administration for answers on a number of important questions.

“Over the past two weeks, I and others have asked the Attorney General to provide the American people with the assurance that closing Guantanamo will keep the American people as safe as Guantanamo has. We’ve asked a series of questions. So far, these questions have gone unanswered. But the questions remain.

• Which detainees will be released or transferred overseas?

• How do we know these men won’t return to the battlefield?

• Will they be tried in American courts or will we use military commissions?

• Will any be sent to U.S. soil, even though the Senate voted against it 94 to 3?

• Finally, what legal basis does the administration have to release trained terrorists into the U.S.?

“Americans want answers. Unfortunately, the administration seems more comfortable discussing its plans for the inmates at Guantanamo with a European audience than it is discussing these details with Americans.

“Senator Sessions wrote a letter to the Attorney General weeks before his trip to Europe asking about the legality of releasing trained terrorists into the U.S. He sent another one to the same effect on Monday. He still hasn’t heard back.

“During the same trip, Attorney General Holder talked specifics about Guantanamo with European leaders. He said that the administration has identified 30 detainees at Guantanamo who are ready for release and that he would, quote, ‘be reaching out to specific countries with specific detainees.’ And according to reports, the administration has presented at least one country with a list of detainees it would like that country to accept.

“Americans want to know that on the issue of Guantanamo the administration is as concerned about safety as it is about symbolism. They’re concerned about the administration’s plans for releasing or transferring some of the most dangerous terrorists alive. They want to know that these terrorists won’t end up back on the battlefield or in their backyards.

“At the very least, they should know as much about the administration’s plans for these men as our European critics do.

“So this morning I would like to ask the Attorney General to provide Congress with any information he has provided to foreign governments about his plans for detainees at Guantanamo. If the administration will not relate its plans to the American people or their representatives in Congress, it should at least relate the details of its conversations on this issue with foreign leaders. This is not too much to ask.”