Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today joined Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in introducing legislation to permanently block the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States.
The Providing Rigorous Oversight to Terminate Extreme Criminal Transfers (PROTECT) Act would codify restrictions preventing detainee transfers to U.S. soil carried in annual appropriations bills since 2009. These restrictions were first adopted after Wolf blocked the release of two detainees to northern Virginia in May 2009.
The measure also would allow for individuals involved in the transfer to be sentenced to up to five years in prison and fined.
"The detention center at Guantanamo Bay was created to house enemy combatants picked up in the War on Terror," Wolf said. "The detainees at Guantanamo were not arrested in the United States; they are terrorists who want to kill Americans. Bringing them to the U.S. would provide them with constitutional protections that they are not entitled to.
"It also brings a new risk for those who can't be tried, opening a precedent for indefinite detention on U.S. soil," Wolf continued. "We already have two recent examples of how the administration's policy of bringing terrorists to the U.S. for criminal prosecution has failed. First was the Justice Department's failure in 2010 to obtain convictions against an al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist implicated in the 1998 embassy bombings on all but one of 280. Then late last year the Justice Department lost a case against a Somali pirate who is now seeking asylum to permanently live in the U.S. as a free man."
"One of President Obama's first acts in office was signing an Executive Order to close Guantanamo Bay," Blackburn said. "This past weekend an Administration official said that Guantanamo detainees should be brought to United States "for detention and trial and prosecution.' My constituents elected me to uphold the Constitution and I will not accept President Obama bringing terrorists to the United States to be read their Miranda rights,"
"The Bergdahl swap involving the transfer of five senior Taliban detainees to a beach resort in Qatar was not only illegal, it put a bounty on the head of every brave man and woman serving our country overseas," Blackburn continued. "Housing terrorists on American soil would put communities at risk and cost hard working taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. My bill will prevent Guantanamo detainees or any other foreign terrorists who take up arms against the United States from being transferred to American soil. President Obama may have taught law, but he doesn't seem to know much about following it. Any person who violates this act will face up to five years in prison. It is time to put a stop to the lawlessness of this administration."
9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America voiced their support for the Protect Act through a statement from co-founder Debra Burlingame.
"For years now, 9/11 families have watched in shock and dismay as Obama Administration officials express their commitment to bringing hardened terrorists, some of whom are known war criminals, onto U.S. soil," Burlingame wrote. "The American people and Congress -- on a bi-partisan basis -- have made it abundantly clear that they do not want detainees at Guantanamo Bay, or those captured overseas, brought to the U.S. homeland. We are deeply grateful to Representatives Blackburn and Wolf for sponsoring legislation, which forecloses this as an option and creates criminal sanctions for those who bypass Congress and violate this rule of law."