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Public Statements


Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, a little later this morning, the President will discuss his decision to close Guantanamo by an arbitrary deadline that is now only 8 months away. It is clear to both Republicans and Democrats in Congress that the administration does not currently have a plan for closing Guantanamo and that closing it without a plan is simply unacceptable. So I hope the President uses his remarks this morning to present a concrete plan that demonstrates how closing Guantanamo will keep Americans as safe as Guantanamo has.

We know the FBI has serious concerns about any plans to release or transfer other detainees into the United States. Just yesterday, FBI Director Mueller said detainees who are sent to U.S. soil, even if they are only sent to secure detention facilities, might still be able to conduct terrorist activities, much like gang leaders who have been able to run their gangs from prison. Director Mueller also stated that detainees released or transferred

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into the United States could endanger the American people by radicalizing others or providing financial support for terrorism. Director Mueller's testimony appears to undermine the claim that sending detainees to the United States is a safe alternative to Guantanamo.

Yesterday, the Senate spoke with near unanimity, by a vote of 90 to 6, against sending terrorist detainees to U.S. soil--a vote that mirrored a vote 2 years ago on the same question. The Senate also expressed its view yesterday that Congress expects its relevant committees to be briefed on the threat posed by the terrorists at Guantanamo. So it is clear that Senate Democrats do not believe circumstances have changed over the last 2 years in such a way that would warrant releasing or transferring terrorists into America.

If the President believes circumstances have changed, then he has an opportunity to explain those changes this morning. The American people are asking the administration to guarantee that any terrorist it releases or transfers will not return to the battlefield. This is particularly urgent in light of a New York Times report this morning that says one in seven detainees already released has returned to terrorism. The President has an opportunity to reassure the American people that future releases will not lead to the same result. If he is not able to provide specifics about his plan for terrorist detainees at Guantanamo, he could still provide this assurance by simply revising his policy. The President has already shown adaptability on military commissions, on prisoner photos, on Iraq, on Afghanistan, and on Pakistan. Here is an opportunity to show more of that flexibility on Guantanamo.

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