Keep de­tainees where they be­long: Gitmo

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Stay the course on clos­ing the fa­cil­i­ties. Less than 24 hours af­ter the Se­nate over­whelm­ingly re­jected the pres­i­dent’s re­quest for funds to shut down Gitmo — mainly be­cause the ad­min­is­tra­tion had no plan — Mr. Obama made clear he in­tends to con­tinue down his cho­sen path.

Never mind that FBI Di­rec­tor Robert S. Mueller III said in a Se­nate hear­ing last Wed­nes­day that mov­ing de­tainees to Amer­i­can pris­ons would bring risks, in­clud­ing “the po­ten­tial for in­di­vid­u­als un­der­tak­ing at­tacks in the United States,” or that the me­dia re­port that an un­re­leased Pen­tagon re­port shows 1 in 7 of the 534 de­tainees re­leased from Gitmo have re­turned to ter­ror­ism or mil­i­tant ac­tiv­ity, re­sult­ing in a nearly 14 per­cent re­cidi­vism rate.

The fact is that Mr. Obama never had a plan for what to do with th­ese de­tainees — where they would be held, the se­cu­rity re­quired, the cost of mov­ing and hous­ing the de­tainees at other fa­cil­i­ties, the le­gal sys­tem un­der which they would be held and tried, and the im­pact on our na­tional se­cu­rity. The pres­i­dent made a “hasty” de­ci­sion, as White House press sec­re­tary Robert Gibbs has made clear, to close this fa­cil­ity without any re­gard to the na­tional-se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions.

Yet, as Mr. Obama noted in his speech, if the de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity at Gitmo is closed, some U.S. do­mes­tic or over­seas pris­ons will have to house th­ese de­tainees while they await dis­po­si­tion. Bring­ing th­ese danger­ous in­di­vid­u­als to the United States, in mil­i­tary or civil­ian pris­ons, would not only re­quire a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment and re­struc­tur­ing of our ex­ist­ing de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties, but also would place Amer­ica and its cit­i­zens at risk.

A bet­ter so­lu­tion al­ready ex­ists. Gitmo is a state-of-the-art prison that pro­vides a safe, se­cure and hu­mane lo­ca­tion to hold de­tainees away from pop­u­la­tion cen­ters. It pro­vides the max­i­mum se­cu­rity re­quired to pre­vent es­cape, as well as multi- ple lev­els of con­fine­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties based on the com­pli­ance of the de­tainee.

I vis­ited Gitmo for the third time in Fe­bru­ary and saw this valu­able as­set first­hand. There are on av­er­age two lawyers for ev­ery de­tainee. There are 127 doc­tors, nurses and med­i­cal tech­ni­cians ded­i­cated to car­ing for and main­tain­ing the health of each de­tainee. The cur­rent treat­ment and over­sight ex­ceed those at any max­i­mum-se­cu­rity prison in the world. There is no su­pe­rior al­ter­na­tive to this prison for th­ese in­di­vid­u­als.

Fur­ther­more, Mr. Obama’s de­scrip­tion of Gitmo as “a mess” and a “mis­guided ex­per­i­ment” were par­tic­u­larly hasty and thought­less. Those com­ments are a di­rect in­sult to our ser­vice­men and -women who have served and are serv­ing on the front lines at Gitmo. Th­ese ser­vice per­son­nel are trained to the high­est mil­i­tary stan­dards, and they pro­fes­sion­ally carry out one of the most dif­fi­cult mis­sions in our mil­i­tary. De­spite be­ing as­saulted daily, both ver- bally and phys­i­cally, they con­tin­u­ously en­sure that each and ev­ery de­tainee is cared for safely and hu­manely.

They track and en­sure each de­tainee’s cul­tural and di­etary needs; they en­sure that de­tainee so­cial and re­li­gious needs are met; and they en­sure that each de­tainee re­ceives med­i­cal care that ex­ceeds the care we pro­vide to our own ser­vice mem­bers. Nu­mer­ous gov­ern­ment and non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions have vis­ited Gitmo, and all have con­cluded that the con­di­tions of con­fine­ment there are in con­form­ity with Com­mon Ar­ti­cle 3 of the Geneva Con­ven­tions and meet the high­est in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

A re­cent re­view also found that the con­di­tions are in con­form­ity with Com­mon Ar­ti­cle 3 and that there was no ev­i­dence of its vi­o­la­tion. Fur­ther­more, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric H. Holder Jr. pro­vided a glow­ing re­port of what he saw dur­ing his re­cent visit to Gitmo and stated that clos­ing the prison would be an ex­ten­sive and dif­fi­cult process.

Most im­por­tant, Amer­i­cans don’t want Gitmo’s ter­ror­ists in their neigh­bor­hoods and have raised their voices against this un­think­able de­ci­sion. In fact, 26 states have leg­is­la­tion pend­ing to pre­vent de­tainees from be­ing held in their states. Any plan to trans­fer or release de­tainees from Gitmo must en­sure the safety and se­cu­rity of the United States and its cit­i­zens, but no plan ex­ists, nor will any plan likely ever ex­ist.

It is time for the pres­i­dent to make a choice and in­form the Amer­i­can peo­ple: Ei­ther keep us­ing this state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity in its cur­rent ca­pac­ity or present a vi­able al­ter­na­tive that does not en­dan­ger our cit­i­zens by bring­ing ter­ror­ists to Amer­i­can soil. I, for one, do not want Amer­i­can towns to be the next home to Khalid Shaikh Mo­hammed, mas­ter­mind of the Sept. 11, 2001, at­tacks.

Sen. James M. In­hofe, Ok­la­homa Repub­li­can, is the se­nior mem­ber of the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee.

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