National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 - Continued

Floor Speech

By:  Saxby Chambliss
Date: Nov. 29, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, I rise in support of an Ayotte amendment, No. 3245, an amendment that makes permanent the current prohibition on the use of defense funds to transfer or release Guantanamo Bay detainees into the United States. This amendment is identical in substance to section 1027 of the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, except that it prohibits the use of the funds permanently.

We know the President said he would close Guantanamo almost 4 years ago. I thought it was a bad idea then; I think it is an even worse idea today. We should move beyond campaign promises and think about what makes sense on this issue. The stubborn refusal to increase the Gitmo detainee population has been the key stumbling block in establishing an effective long-term detention policy.

The American people have been pretty unified in their opposition to bringing Gitmo detainees to the United States, and I believe we should listen to them.

I understand that Senator Feinstein just released the GAO report she requested regarding facilities and factors to consider if Gitmo detainees were brought to the United States. I have reviewed this report, and I have to respectfully disagree that this report offers any support whatsoever for the idea that Gitmo detainees can or should be moved to the United States.

The very first page of the GAO report lays out in stark terms the serious problems that would come into play if detainees from Guantanamo were transferred to the United States: legal and cost considerations, compliance with U.S. and international laws, collecting intelligence information, and ensuring the safety and security of the general public and personnel at these facilities.

The report makes very clear that the Department of Justice does not have the authority to maintain custody of detainees under the AUMF. In other words, even without the prohibition on transfers of detainees to the United States, it would be illegal for the Bureau of Prisons or the Marshals Service to take custody of Guantanamo detainees.

Moreover, the Department of Justice told the GAO--and I quote--it ``does not plan to transfer detainees to the United States,'' saying it raises legal, policy, and resource issues that descriptions of current policies and practices contained in the GAO report cannot fully address.

Essentially, the Department of Justice is saying that on top of those issues already described in the GAO report, such as insufficient standards for law or war detention, severe overcrowding, and ``implications for the public safety,'' there would be even more issues that are not mentioned at all. And that is from a Department of Justice that has fully supported the idea of moving Gitmo detainees into the United States.

Housing these detainees in DOD corrections facilities does not seem to be the answer either because of equally troubling legal and safety issues for detention of these individuals, including the Geneva Conventions' prohibition on detaining prisoners of war in penitentiaries.

These are just some of the reasons Congress has prohibited the transfer of these detainees to the United States and why those prohibitions must continue.

This prohibition made sense last year and it still makes sense today. The GAO report only confirms that. The detainees who remain at Gitmo include the ones who have been determined to be too dangerous to transfer, including the individuals who were responsible for the masterminding of the attack on September 11, which we just celebrated the 11th anniversary of.

So if that is the case, why on Earth would we put these detainees whom we will not send to other countries in cities and towns across the United States of America? The Federal Government's primary responsibility is to keep the American people safe. Keeping these detainees at Gitmo accomplishes that goal.

I urge my colleagues to support the Ayotte amendment.

I yield the floor.


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