McConnell: Closing Guantanamo: Views of the Senate are Abundantly Clear

‘It has been reported that Congressional Democrats are privately considering the entreaties of the White House to repudiate these very clear views and to allow terrorist detainees to come into the United States’

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Thursday regarding Guantanamo Bay:

“Mr. President, just a few weeks ago, the Senate answered the question that has concerned Americans: whether or not the terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba should be transferred stateside to facilities that could be in or near their communities.

“By an overwhelming vote of 90-6, the Senate said ‘no way; not without a plan.’ It passed the bipartisan Inouye-Inhofe amendment that bars the administration from transferring these terrorist detainees into the United States.

“This is not a change in the Senate’s position. Just a few years ago, the Senate, by a vote of 94-3, said the same thing: we should not move some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists out of Guantanamo’s modern, safe, and secure facility and into our country.

“So the views of the Senate are abundantly clear. Nevertheless, it has been reported that Congressional Democrats are privately considering the entreaties of the White House to repudiate these very clear views and to allow terrorist detainees to come into the United States.

“What has changed?

“The views of the American people have not changed. They firmly oppose it. Nor have the dangers and difficulties of moving the detainees into the U.S.

“The FBI Director has testified about the dangers of holding these terrorists in the United States.

“Most of us are familiar with the problems that Alexandria, Virginia experienced with just the trial of just one terrorist: security problems, transportation problems, logistical problems, commercial problems. Indeed, if you want to try these detainees by military commission, something I support, there is no better place than the $12 million, modern courtroom at Guantanamo Bay.

“The administration’s supporters point to Supermax as a place to house these terrorists. But our colleagues from Colorado don’t support moving them there, nor is there even any place in that facility to put them.

“The Denver Post reports there is just one bed open at Supermax. That means these terrorists would have to come somewhere else, perhaps to a facility in your state.

“So, why in the world would Senate Democrats be entertaining the idea of giving the administration millions of dollars for doing this, especially without having seen a plan?

“According to a Member of the Democratic Leadership, it is because keeping terrorists at Guantanamo is a ‘problem politically’ for the administration.

“That is most curious. Assuming this is a political problem, with whom does the administration have it?

“It’s not with the American people. They don’t want Guantanamo closed, and they certainly don’t want its inmates transferred here.

“It’s not with our colleagues from Colorado. They don’t want these detainees transferred into their state any more than the rest of America does.

“It seems like the administration’s ‘political problem’ is a diplomatic one with Europeans, who want the U.S. to accept some of these dangerous terrorists before they will.

“It’s not in the interest of the U.S. to compromise our security to appease our European critics.

“Like most Americans, I am for keeping Guantanamo open. It is safe and securely away from our civilian population.

“Perhaps I could be persuaded to change my mind if the administration comes up with a plan. They have time to do that and still receive funding to execute a plan through the regular order when we take up the FY 2010 appropriations bills in a few months.

“But we should not rush to give the administration a blank check to do something, sight unseen, that Americans oppose.

“As Senate Democrats have often said, the Senate is not a rubber stamp. And we should not flip-flop on our vote of just a few weeks ago.”