Senator Roberts Opposes Transfer of Terrorists at Gitmo to the U.S. and Kansas

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) today spoke on the Senate floor opposing the transfer of terrorists at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo). The following are his prepared remarks:

"I rise today to speak about Guantanamo Bay. But I’d like to point out, I’m speaking about a Guantanamo Bay my colleagues, and the good citizens of the United States, might not recognize.

"Obviously, the Guantanamo Bay I’m speaking of houses ‘terrorists.’ I’ve been there and there are ‘terrorists’ at Gitmo! Not ‘enemy combatants’ fighting in an ‘Overseas Contingency Operation’–but terrorists, against whom we must wage a War on Terror because they continually plan to launch attacks against us.

"Now, the reason I explain this is because we have seen a change in how those who are incarcerated at Gitmo are now being defined and described both by the media, by the Administration and, as a consequence, by some Americans.

"I understand that there is a poor perception of Guantanamo Bay. But to say there are no terrorists there, to say there are not even ‘enemy combatants there,’ is doing a disservice to us all by trivializing the crimes committed by the men at Guantanamo Bay.

"Mr. President, I ask you: When did we start making terror politically correct? And why?

"This same question was asked by Daniel Pearl’s father, Judea Pearl, in an article that ran in The Wall Street Journal this past February.

"It’s called, ‘Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil.’ I think every Senator and every American should read it.

"As you may know, and we all should remember, Daniel Pearl was the Wall Street Journal reporter captured and beheaded on video by the ‘non-terrorist, non-enemy combatant’ Khaled Sheikh Mohammed in 2002.

"Beheaded by Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, who is actually sitting at Guantanmo Bay right now.

"Listen to what Judea Pearl, a respected professor at UCLA, has to say about that act of terror:

"‘Those around the world who mourned for Danny in 2002 genuinely hoped that Danny’s murder would be a turning point in the history of man’s inhumanity to man, and that the targeting of innocents to transmit political messages would quickly become, like slavery and human sacrifice, an embarrassing relic of a bygone era.’

"‘But somehow, barbarism, often cloaked in the language of resistance, has gained acceptance in the most elite circles of our society. The words ‘war on terror’ cannot be uttered today without fear of offense. Civilized society, so it seems, is so numbed by violence that it has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.’

 

"Well, this Senator remains disgusted by evil. I am disgusted by those who target innocent civilians as they spew their hatred. And I refuse to adopt what Danny’s father calls ‘the mentality of surrender.’

"It’s not too late. We can all refuse to surrender to the idea that terrorism is somehow a tactic. To refuse to believe it is an acceptable tool of resistance.

"There is still time for Americans to remember that there are men at Guantanamo who cannot be released and most certainly should not be on American soil.

"In fact, Americans MUST remember that there are men at Gitmo who planned the September 11th attacks, the USS Cole attack, and the attacks on American embassies in Africa. There are men at Gitmo who perpetrate horrible crimes against humanity because they don’t like who we are, or the way we live.

"Terrorist detainees should be held, as they are now, at Gitmo, in compliance with international law.

"Ask the Red Cross or our new Attorney General Eric Holder. Guantanamo is a first rate facility that safely keeps these men out of civilized society, affords them humane treatment and gives them religious respect.

"Certainly, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed did not afford Daniel Pearl those courtesies.

"No, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, and others like him, were and STILL ARE on a jihad against every man, woman, and child in our country.

"And yet we should bring these terrorists to American soil? Not only is that just plain wrong, it logistically won’t work. In Dodge City, Kansas they’d call it flat out dumb.

"In fact, for those who would like to bring these ‘non-terrorists, non-enemy combatants’ to hometown USA, let me paint a picture:

"Fort Leavenworth, Kansas has been mentioned many times as a possible location for the 100 or so terrorists that Defense Secretary Gates says can’t be released but can’t be tried.

"Leavenworth, where we educate ALL future Army officers. Where we host foreign military officers every year to build relationships and foster military cooperation. Leavenworth, the Intellectual Center of the Army.

"You think Army officers want to study at Fort Leavenworth if terrorists are there? You think they want to send their kids to schools on base- minutes away from the most dangerous men in the world? And do you think foreign countries, especially friendly Muslim nations, will want to send their best and brightest officers to a place that houses men we all agree are not appropriate for a civilized society?

"Not a chance.

"And even worse, I can’t believe we’re asking the people of Leavenworth to hang out the ‘Welcome Terrorists’ banner. To share their community not only with terrorists, but with every protestor who will inevitably show up. With every terrorist who will view a facility on the mainland as a target. And they do.

"And before someone says Fort Leavenworth is secure, let me tell you that it’s secure alright- but for military prisoners who are compliant, and for civilian prisoners who are not on a jihad against America.

"Guantanamo Bay is a fortress, a humane, Red Cross approved fortress, but a fortress nonetheless.

"Moving such a facility to hometown, USA will require security beyond reality. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would look like.

"But I do know that its unrealistic to think that a place like Fort Leavenworth, which has a railroad running through it and a river running next to it, won’t be secure.

"No, Mr. President. It’s not secure enough. In fact, the only place that is would have to be a fortress in the middle of nowhere.... or Guantanamo Bay.

"Lets also not forget the cost to taxpayers. You would not be able to mix these prisoners with the general prison population, let alone the public. You would have to build a hospital and medical facilities, exercise and eating facilities, places for religious worship, and the list goes on. If you think that is crazy, I’d recommend you travel to Gitmo and take a look. They’ve already got all those facilities there. In fact, the medical facilities are better than those in most of our small rural communities in this nation.

"Why we keep coming back to this ridiculous argument, why we keep trivializing the crimes committed by those at Gitmo, and why we keep offering up our American communities as reasonable alternatives is beyond me.

"But I’ll say this. NOT IN OUR BACKYARD. Not in Kansas. Not on my watch. I don’t know how many times I have to say or shout this on the Senate floor before this misbegotten idea is put to rest. But trust me, I’ll continue to do it until we come to our senses, or until one of my colleagues that wants to close Gitmo offers up a site in their state as a reasonable alternative.

"One senator has a lot of tools in his toolbox for keeping the Senate tied up in knots. If someone gets the bright idea of moving these prisoners to Kansas, you all can cancel your summer travel plans because we’re going to be spending a lot of time doing nothing here."

Senator Roberts, a former Marine, was Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 2003-2006.