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Roskam Editorial: Pelosi Is Playing Politics With Our National Security

Op-Ed

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Location: Washington, DC

Roskam Editorial: Pelosi Is Playing Politics With Our National Security

Throughout last year's campaign, we heard a consistent tone from Congressional Democrats on detainees: Guantanamo Bay Prison and enhanced interrogation techniques were secretive, destructive and endangered our country - and the closure of Guantanamo and ceasing enhanced interrogations would immediately make us safer. Not even four months later, Democrat stories have crumbled in their consistency, but their policies remain dangerous.

While railing against Guantanamo Bay is a favorite pastime in Congress, actually closing the prison brings far murkier waters. Since 2002, nearly 800 suspected terrorists have been through Guantanamo Bay Prison. Some were unjustly and unfortunately detained, but the vast majority of those suspected terrorists believe the events of 9/11 were only the beginning.

Many of the world's worst terrorists are currently held at Guantanamo, including Al-Qaeda and 9/11 masterminds Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. At a safe, secure, and isolated U.S. military base in Guantanamo, Cuba, these 240 suspected terrorists are unable to harm American citizens.

Unfortunately, Congressional leaders are trying to close Guantanamo to score cheap political points and fulfill partisan campaign rhetoric. Take for example the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. For years the Speaker has railed against interrogation techniques saying things like: "Failure to prohibit the use of water boarding and other harsh torture techniques also risks the safety of soldiers and American's overseas." Moreover, she claimed she was kept in the dark about interrogation techniques at Guantanamo and recently even suggested creating a "Truth Commission" to investigate those past actions.

Yet intelligence reports out last week show that Speaker Pelosi knew, condoned, and helped craft those exact interrogation policies while she was Chair of the House Intelligence Committee in 2002. Better still, camp Pelosi now claims she didn't object out of respect for "appropriate" legislative channels. Why she remained silent in 2002 when she had an opportunity to stop the controversial techniques, but persists so vigorously after the fact is illustrative of the sort of hypocrisy and politicization of our national security that can only make us more vulnerable to attack.

These reports bring us back to the issue of Guantanamo and suspected terrorist detainees. Just after inauguration, President Obama made a ceremonial order to close Guantanamo Bay Prison. I believe he did this because of the marred reputation Guantanamo carries and because he'd like to symbolically end torture. I understand and applaud the President's intentions, though I caution Democrats in Congress to first consider the alternative options.

Democrats want Guantanamo closed, but have no plan for where to send the terrorist detainees- four months after they first ordered its closing. These woes were highlighted last week when even the liberal chairman of the House Appropriations committee, David Obey (D-WI), refused to fund the Guantanamo closure because in his words, "[the Administration] lacks a plan to safely relocate the roughly 240 terrorist suspectsÂ…"

So why is there no plan when even the most liberal Democrats are fully committed to Guantanamo's closing? Because playing politics with national security is far easier than actually creating the responsible policies that keeps us safe.

When debating the security of our country, there is one question above all that must be answered: Will this action make us safer or not? The answer is not what Congressional Democrats are looking for.

Can you imagine some of the world's worst terrorists being held here in America, in Illinois, in the 6th district? What if one escaped? It's no secret that drug gang lords can effectively operate their organizations from prison, communicating with the outside world with ease. In fact, prison has become a training ground for violent drug gangs. Do we want to grant Al Qaeda terrorists the same favor? And what kind of terror might come from a cross-pollination of Al Qaeda and drug gangs?

That's why my fellow Republicans in Congress have introduced a bill, "The Keep Terrorists out of America Act," which will require, among other criteria, that the Governor and State Legislature would have to approve the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to a facility in their state.

Now some might say I'm trying to scare readers with a doomsday scenario, but this nightmare theory will become one district and one state's nightmare reality if Guantanamo Bay Prison is actually closed. In a frightening reminder of just how real the threat is, just this week a federal jury convicted five terrorists of plotting with Al-Qaeda to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and FBI offices. The politicization of national security might be good campaign rhetoric, but Speaker Pelosi and Congressional Democrats should consider all of the pitfalls before acting on their words.


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