Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: Nov. 18, 2009
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, this morning, the Attorney General will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing. Among other matters, he will be asked questions about the Administration's recent decision to voluntarily bring terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the United States, including for purposes of civilian trial.

I, myself, have questions for the Attorney General.

The administration justifies sending Kahlid Sheik Mohammed and his fellow 9/11 plotters to civilian court, while prosecuting other foreign terrorists in military commissions because, it says, the former targeted civilians on American soil, while the latter attacked military targets overseas, like the warship USS Cole. I find this a truly troubling distinction.

First, is that rationale not internally inconsistent and, frankly, disingenuous? Everyone knows the Pentagon is a military target. Indeed, it is our Nation's foremost military command and control installation. What does it say to the military families of those service men and women who were killed that day to ignore that Kahlid Sheik Mohammed attacked a military target on 9/11?

Second, under this rationale, is the administration not telling terrorists that if they target defenseless U.S. civilians on our own soil they will get the rights and privileges of American citizens, whereas if they attack a military target, like the USS Cole, which can defend itself, they will not get these rights and privileges? Does that approach not reward terrorists with benefits--like potentially providing them access to sensitive information, and providing them a platform for propagandizing--for attacking civilians here in the U.S., rather than military targets abroad?

In short, I think the administration has made an ill-advised decision by bringing foreign terrorists from Guantanamo Bay into the United States. There are a lot of well-known downsides and dangers from doing so. I have not heard of any benefit to us of bringing these terrorists here.

In his testimony before the Judiciary Committee today, the Attorney General has the opportunity to explain the administration's decision--something he has yet to do before the Senate.

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