Senator Cotton’s column for this week is below. Please find a high-resolution photo attached or for download here.
Recently, President Obama announced his plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Despite opposition from the majority of Americans, it seems he is intent on using his last 11 months in office to carry out an ill-advised, ideological campaign promise. Worse, he will just wash his hands of the disastrous implications next January, but America will suffer the consequences long after he leaves office.
Guantanamo Bay is a first-rate detention facility that’s kept terrorists off the battlefield and played a critical role in our counterterrorism efforts. It allows us to concentrate trained experts in interrogation in one place to extract intelligence of paramount importance in uncovering and stopping plots against Americans. Information obtained from detainees at Guantanamo has been described by the CIA as “the lead information” that enabled the agency to recognize the importance of a courier for Osama bin Laden, a crucial understanding that lead to the U.S. raid that killed him. If Guantanamo Bay closes, we will lose that kind of valuable information.
As part of his plan, President Obama also announced he plans to transfer many of the remaining Guantanamo Bay detainees to other countries. Let’s consider what’s happened to those “detainees” who have been already been released from Guantanamo Bay over the last several years. Over six hundred and fifty detainees have been released from Guantanamo, with 196 being confirmed or suspected of having returned to the battlefield-a 30 percent recidivism rate. This number is likely much higher and is made even more stark when measured against the recidivism rate of those who haven’t been released: zero.
And those detainees that can’t be transferred to other countries? President Obama plans to bring them here, to the United States where they will be imprisoned in our regular, maximum security prisons. Bringing them to our shores is not only unnecessary and dangerous, it is also unlawful. President Obama’s own military and Attorney General have both said they lack the legal authority to transfer detainees to the United States. President Obama can’t ignore that reality.
Rest assured, I am committed to ensuring this valuable counter intelligence tool remains open and to increasing the number of terrorists sent there. Simply put, President Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay is dead on arrival in the Senate.