KYL ON GUANTANAMO CLOSURE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl today delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the closure of the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:

 

“Recently, the chorus of false claims and insinuations about the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has grown louder – in tandem, I suspect, with growing American opposition to closing the facility and bringing the terrorists to U.S. soil.

“A majority of Americans now oppose the closure of Guantanamo. Many of the arguments we’ve heard recently to dissuade them, frankly, give off more heat than light.

 

“My friend and colleague, the majority whip, recently gave a speech in which he claimed that arguments opposing the closure of the prison at Guantanamo made by Senator McConnell and others are ‘based on fear.’

 

“I contend that these arguments are based on serious concerns about both the safety of Americans and the logistical obstacles to closing the facility.

 

“Last month, before the House Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified that transferring the remaining Guantanamo detainees to U.S. prisons – even maximum-security prisons – would entail serious security risks. ‘The concerns we have about individuals who may support terrorism being in the United States run from concerns about providing financing, radicalizing others,’ as well as ‘the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States.’

 

“The Guantanamo facility is separated from American communities and is well protected from the threat of a terrorist attack. No one has ever escaped from Guantanamo.

 

“Why should we feel pressure to support President Obama’s arbitrary deadline to close the facility when the administration has yet to offer a plan about where to relocate the terrorists? Other countries have told us that they don’t want them, with the exception of France, which offered to take one prisoner. And a new June 2 USA Today poll shows that Americans, by a measure of 3-1, reject bringing these terrorists to the United States.

 

“In his speech, Senator Durbin also made reference to the ‘torture of prisoners held by the United States’ and the ‘treatment of some prisoners at Guantanamo.’

 

“Regarding the treatment of Guantanamo detainees, the record needs to reflect the following: The living conditions at the facility are safe and humane. This is a $200 million state-of-the-art facility that meets or exceeds standards of modern prison facilities. Following his February tour of Guantanamo, Attorney General Holder said, ‘I did not witness any mistreatment of prisoners. I think, to the contrary, what I saw was a very serious attempt by these guards to conduct themselves in an appropriate way.’

 

“Numerous international delegations and government officials from dozens of countries have visited the facility. During a 2006 inspection by the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe, a Belgian representative said, ‘At the level of the detention facilities, it is a model prison, where people are better treated than in Belgian prisons.’

 

“Detainees get to exercise regularly, receive culturally and religiously appropriate meals three times a day, and access to mail and a library. Additionally, the International Committee of the Red Cross has unfettered access to the detainees. They have met all detainees in private sessions and routinely consult with the U.S. on its detention operations.

 

“The facility provides outstanding medical care to every detainee. In 2005, the military completed a new camp hospital to treat detainees, who have now received hundreds of surgeries and thousands of dental procedures and vaccinations.

 

“So this idea that the prisoners are treated badly is patently false.

 

“The insinuation – directly or indirectly – that torture has occurred at Guantanamo must stop. Torture is illegal. It was never permitted at Guantanamo, and torture has never been sanctioned by the United States.

 

“In discussions about torture, we’ve heard a lot of rhetoric that attempts to draw a straight line between what happened at Abu Ghraib and the legal enhanced interrogations at Guantanamo.

 

“Let’s be clear about the distinction: At Abu Ghraib, a few brutal prison guards abused inmates. In doing so, they violated American law and military regulations. And for that they rightly received Army justice.

 

“The methods of legal interrogation used at Guantanamo, which have wrongly been characterized by some as ‘torture,’ were used on a few of the most hardened terrorists after all other efforts failed.

 

“At Guantanamo, all credible allegations of detainee abuse are investigated, and the military has not hesitated to prosecute or discipline any guards who violate those standards, regardless of provocation. Navy Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said in 2007 the facility’s practices have been in keeping with DoD policies: ‘We tend to get wrapped up in the greater discussion of detainees down here with those detained elsewhere. There have been many, many investigations conducted of the conditions in Guantanamo…and they found no deviations from standing DoD policies.’

 

“Then there’s the idea that has been floated by the President, Senator Durbin, and others that keeping Guantanamo Bay open serves as a ‘recruitment tool’ for al Qaeda. By this logic, our fight against the Taliban and our targeted air strikes against terrorists in Pakistan could be dubbed ‘recruitment tools’ for al Qaeda, since both policies involve planting U.S. forces in Muslim nations to fight jihadists.

 

“This ‘recruitment tool’ idea is the latest incarnation of what Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick dubbed the ‘blame-America-first’ mentality. It makes excuses for the terrorists and heaps scorn on the United States for fighting back.

 

“Recall that al Qaeda was swelling its ranks throughout the 1990s – before the war on terror and well before the prison at Guantanamo Bay was created. During that decade, it struck the World Trade Center, the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Then, in October 2000, it attacked the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen.

 

“So by the time the 19 hijackers boarded the four planes that crashed on September 11, 2001, al Qaeda had already identified numerous grievances with America, including its contempt for Western culture, equal rights for women and men, and our support for free speech and the exchange of ideas.”