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Public Statements

Support the Protect Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. BLACKBURN. Madam Speaker, today, I am rising in support of H.R. 4836, the Providing Rigorous Oversight to Terminate Extreme Criminal Transfers, or PROTECT, Act.

The PROTECT Act is a piece of legislation I have introduced with Congressman Wolf of Virginia. It will ensure that Guantanamo Bay detainees do not ever end up on American soil. The PROTECT Act will prevent the transfer to the United States of Gitmo detainees or any other unprivileged enemy belligerents captured overseas. Current transfer prohibitions are tied to annual funding bills. The PROTECT Act is a long-term solution to the detainee issue and punishes unlawful transfers by up to 5 years in prison. It is supported by the 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America.

We do need the PROTECT Act. Why do we need it? Because of lawlessness. This administration has demonstrated a pattern of lawless behavior that is creating a constitutional crisis in our Nation. The most recent example of this was the President's failure to notify Congress about the release of the Taliban Five.

Make no mistake. The administration fully intends to bring Gitmo detainees to American soil, read them their Miranda rights, and give them access to our civilian courts. Gitmo detainees do not belong here. Their presence would endanger our local communities. We need a solution that will deter this administration from looking for ways around the law. It is important to consider the administration's actions regarding this detainee issue.

First, President Obama signed Executive Order No. 13492 on January 22, 2009, to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Second, in November 2009, the administration announced 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be tried in New York. It later abandoned the idea.

Third, on December 15, 2009, a letter signed by Hillary Clinton and several other administration officials was sent to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, stating the administration's intent to bring Gitmo detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois.

These actions triggered an avalanche of opposition and forced the President to temporarily abandon his plan to bring these Gitmo detainees to the U.S.

However, in this year's State of the Union address, the President renewed his pledge to close Gitmo by stating:

And, with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.

Cliff Sloan, an administration special envoy for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, recently told ABC that the administration would have to work with Congress on changing the law so that detainees could be brought here.

He stated:

For detention and trial and prosecution, we think people should be allowed to be brought to the United States. Our supermax facilities are very secure, and we have hundreds of people convicted of terrorist offenses in our supermax prisons.

The President may not like having three branches of government, and he may not like checks and balances, but this system of checks and balances has served our Nation well. His lawless actions are creating a constitutional crisis, and it must stop. Gitmo detainees are coming to American soil unless we pass the PROTECT Act. Its criminal penalties will ensure that the President respects the law.

I encourage my colleagues to join me on the PROTECT Act, which includes a transfer prohibition, provides a long-term solution, enacts criminal penalties, and provides an exception for American citizens.


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