U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Scott Brown (R-MA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) today introduced the "Detaining Terrorists To Secure America Act" (S. 944) -- legislation that would keep open the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility. With questions remaining about where America would detain high-value terrorists it captures -- as well as lingering uncertainty about Guantanamo's future -- this bipartisan bill addresses the urgent need to designate a single secure facility for the detention and interrogation of current and future terrorists.
The legislation reaffirms Guantanamo Bay as a location for detaining unprivileged enemy belligerents held by the Department of Defense, directing the Defense Secretary to take actions to maintain GITMO as an operating facility for the detention of current and future terrorists. It also permanently limits the transfer of detainees to foreign countries and prohibits funding for the construction of terrorist detention facilities within the United States.
"I was disappointed to hear Attorney General Holder say earlier this week that the Administration is still committed to closing Guantanamo, despite the continuing need to have a secure location to detain terrorists and obtain intelligence to protect our country," said Senator Ayotte, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Intelligence collected from detainee interrogations made the bin Laden raid possible. A significant portion of that information was obtained at Guantanamo, and early reporting indicates that included the initial information about the courier who ultimately led us to bin Laden."
Senator Graham said, "I recently asked our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, "Where would we jail a High-Value Target if they were captured today?' Admiral Mullen responded, "We don't have an answer to that question.' That's why I think our legislation is so important. It will help address a glaring hole in our national security -- we are a nation without a functioning jail to access in the War on Terror. We must have a viable confinement facility to house certain foreign fighters we capture, and the only facility now available to us is Guantanamo Bay (GITMO). Guantanamo is a model prison, transparent and fully compliant with all domestic and international requirements when it comes to law of war detention. For the Administration, GITMO has become the only choice available. It should be used."
Senator Lieberman said, "The bottom line is that Guantanamo is still open today and will remain open for years to come. The sooner we -- Republicans, Democrats and Independents -- recognize that in law, the sooner we can turn our attention to taking action that is focused on one goal -- using this now state-of-the-art detention facility to keep our country safe."
"The events of last week underscore the importance of information we gain from detainees, particularly those at Guantanamo Bay," said Senator Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "For months, we have been asking administration officials where we could hold detainees we may capture. This legislation provides an answer and gives us the chance to gather actionable intelligence to keep our country safe. Moreover, as recidivism rates are more than 25 percent, we cannot afford to let more dangerous detainees return to the fight."
"Having visited our prison facility at Guantanamo Bay earlier this year, I believe strongly that it should remain a critical tool in our continued war against terrorism," said Senator Brown, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "While bin Laden is dead, the terrorist threat remains very much alive, and enemy combatants should be tried and detained at Gitmo pursuant to our rules of engagement and laws of war. That is why I am proud to join this bipartisan legislation."
Senator Rubio said, "Guantanamo Bay plays an integral part in our ongoing effort to safeguard America and it is critical that this facility remain open and operating."