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  • Guest Blogger: Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) on the Tenuous Future of Gitmo

    After taking office earlier this year, President Obama issued an executive order to close the detention facilities by the end of the year, without a plan for the relocation of over 200 detainees currently housed at the base. One option that I do not support is bringing the detainees here to the States for trial and placing them in our federal prisons. Many of the detainees pose a serious threat to our national security. The Pentagon just released a report stating that one in seven of the detainees that have been released from Guantanamo have reverted back to terrorism or militant activity. This is a staggering statistic and a chance we cannot afford to take. It is completely unacceptable to move these dangerous individuals to our federal prisons where they will be integrated with other prisoners.

    Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to tour the detention facilities and talk with the troops working on the base. Make no mistake; the soldiers operating the base are doing an outstanding job. Despite what you may hear from media reports, the detention facilities at the base are similar to those of maximum security prisons here in the states.

    The facilities at Guantanamo are more than adequate for the trials and tribunals of the detainees. The base has a brand new courtroom which has never been used. When visiting Guantanamo, I was surprised to see ongoing construction at a facility now scheduled to close. Why close a facility that is equipped and clearly capable of housing and trying these dangerous individuals?

    During a recent House Judiciary hearing, I had the opportunity to ask Attorney General Holder and the commanders at Guantanamo the prospect of the detention facilities being used as a prison after detainees are tried and convicted. I was told this idea had not even been considered by the administration. Use of the facility as a prison should not be ruled out after having spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to build a state-of-the-art, safe, secure complex. This idea merits real, thoughtful consideration and debate.

    One of the first bills I introduced this Congress would prevent any of the detainees at Guantanamo from being transferred to prisons or detention facilities in Florida. I know the people of the 16th district of Florida don’t want dangerous terrorists housed in our home state. Closing Guantanamo without a clear plan for the detainees during this time of uncertainty is a risk to our national security and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

    The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Guest Blogger: Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) on the Tenuous Future of Gitmo

    1. Andrew, Michigan says:

      While the recidivism (a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; especially : relapse into criminal behavior) rate for these terrorists is 1 out of 7 which still is not good, the typical recidivism rate in Michigan is about 50% within 2 years. I think Guantanamo Bay was the selected "fall guy" in relation to the war on terror in which the President was quick to act upon in asserting his authority. Our problem is the "act before full consideration" scenario. As the presidents war on terror is diluted/diminished in the eyes of America with phrasologies and pullouts, I would not be suprised if the President did a double take on this stance. I have also heard on local radio reports that the upper penninsula in Michigan is a potential consideration for the detainees. From my point of view this would ruin the meaning of "God's Country" from the upper penninsula!

    2. dennis florida says:

      i have heard a lot about this issue, after 911, we found ourselves in a totally different kind of war. no certain rogue country, no uniforms, the enemy hiding behind women and children, shooting and firing those shoulder held ground to air rocket launchers. etc. i believe president bush did a great job of aligning our nation to comply with this new threat. there is always going to be some mistakes made, in order to find out what works and what does not.with the successful operations he has set in place, it would seem that the next administration could build on the those guidelines.after observing this new administration,it seems he is going backwards.i agree with you., why bring them here if they are already there, after spending all this money for a perfectly good military court there.it doesn't make sense to me. is obama trying to treat this as a civilian issue? but then again,everything he does, doesn't makes any sense to me.

    3. Glen, FL says:

      So the child rapist and multiple murderers are OK for the supermax, but not for "terrorists"? Come on man, step into reality.

    4. arcticredriver, Penn says:

      I am very surprised that a Congressional Representative, who should have access to truthful intelligence, would repeat the falsehood that one in seven former captives "…have reverted back to terrorism or militant activity." Repeating this kind of wild exagerration makes the public less safe.

      Guantanamo does contain a small fraction of actual terrorists, and actual fighters. As Representative Rooney should acknowledge, the individual allegation memos the DoD prepared in 2004 and published in 2006 never supported the claim that most of the captives were fighters or terrorists.

      Some of the small fraction of captives who really were dangerous were transferred to the custody of their home countries, and were ultimately released. But this was not because they "tricked" their way out, as the Bush administration claimed. This was due to simple incompetence, or Bush administration toadying to the Saudis.

      I recommend Representative Rooney read the find analytical work of the legal scholars at Seton Hall University, who conducted detailed, methodical analysis of the DoD claims of who the Guantanamo captives were, and compared them with what the record said they were.

      They found that former captive were considered as "supporting terrorism" merely for candidly answering reporters' questions about their experience of US hospitality.

    5. Pingback: Guest Blogger: Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL) on the Tenuous Future … | Global Security Blog

    6. Brian Hager, Tequest says:

      I have personally come to believe that the open ended detention of these folks is setting a very bad precedent. We need to put them on trial and get this over with. As to what happens if they are convicted, what would be the difference if they wound up in our maximum security prisons anyway.

      I can't help but wonder what we stand for any more. It most certainly doesn't compare to the principles of our founding fathers.

    7. William Seay Clarkes says:

      If I were in the service I would instruct my men not to take prisnors.

    8. David E Aldridge, Da says:

      Seton Hall-you can't get any more left if you tried. What does Seton Hall want to do, spank them and tell them not to kill women and childern anymore, only GI Americans? They are all "militant Islamic extreme radicals". Wake up!

    9. Pingback: Bring terrorists to US? Better than leaving Gitmo open, panel says. | csmonitor.com

    10. arcticredriver, Penn says:

      David Aldridge, another reader, discounts the Seton Hall studies, as "left wing". I suspect Mr Aldridge discounted them without reading them.

      I not only read them, I read the same DoD documents they analyzed to write them. Those documents simply do not support the claim that all the Guantanamo captives were "militant islamic extreme radicals". A very significant portion of the captives were clearly innocent bystanders.

      When you read the transcripts from the annual reviews the captives started having in 2005, you will come across the transcripts of innocent men. After they respond to the allegations initially used to justify their detention, they answered them so credibly that the answers sitting on their Board had no followup question.

      So, what did the officers ask them. Paraphrasing, these men were asked: "Okay, we accept when you were captured, and transferred here, you were just an innocent bystander. But that is not enough for us to recommend your release. That was years ago. Now you have to convince us that years of unjust detention haven't radicalized you, and made you start to hate the USA, and made you want to retaliate. Remember, we know you have spent the last years hanging out with some very dangerous men. Go ahead, convince us you don't hate the USA."

    11. arcticredriver, Penn says:

      Another reader comments: "If I were in the service I would instruct my men not to take prisoners."

      Well, we should all be grateful this reader is not in the service. What they described is a serious war crime.

      It also exposes how deeply a misconception has spread. Most Americans think that the Guantanamo captives were captured by Americans, on something like a battlefield. They think GIs came to the captives' foxholes, when the captives' had run out of bullets, and said: "hands up, you are going to Gitmo".

      In fact, if you read the transcripts, you won't find many captures that resemble that description. In addition to Omar Khadr's capture there is just one that resembles that description.

      On February 10, 2003, a column of American vehicles reported being fired upon, while on their way to capture a warlord named Abdul Wahed Raes, at a fortified compound outside the small village of Lejah, Helmand Province. The Americans rounded up every military age man in the region — even paraplegics. They decided to pick a dozen captives to send to HQ. They had no idea if any of the 71 men they rounded up had fired on them. There were no American casualties. I strongly suspect these were green troops, and that they hadn't been fired upon at all.

      So, if our reader had been in charge, what is he saying he would have done differently? Would he have shot all 71 of the local men his troops found going about their daily business? Does our reader know what Josef Stalin use to say: "It is better to kill ten innocent men than risk one guilty man goes free."

      Our reader might be reassured to learn what happened on February 11th, 2003. American aircraft returned and bombed the village. ISAF aircraft continued to bomb the region for another two weeks. "Operation Eagle Fury". DoD spin-doctors described the operation as a success. They denied the local reports that the bombing had caused widespread civilian casualties.

      In fact, when you read the transcripts, you can see that the capture, and subsequent bombing, were an enormous, costly mistake. These men were just who they said they were — innocent villagers. They should not have been captured on February 10, 2003, they shouldn't have spent years in Guantanamo, and their relatives shouldn't have been slaughtered on February 11, 2003.

    12. arcticredriver, Penn says:

      Representative Rooney suggests that any Guantanamo captives who are convicted should continue to be held in Guantanamo.

      Representative Rooney, have you been briefed on how expensive it has been to run the Guantanamo detention camp? Prior to 9-11 the population at Guantanamo numbered about 3,000. The population of the base more than tripled to support the camp. So, where-as in a normal US Federal prison, where the inmates outnumber the guards about ten to one, in Guantanamo guards outnumber the captives by twenty to one. As the number of captives held there has shrunk the number of guards remains the same.

      Representative Rooney, are you really arguing that the USA should spend an extra two hundred million dollars a year to hold men in Guantanamo, because some members of American public are afraid they will break out of a Supermax?

    13. Daddy14 says:

      In other words, they want to talk everybody into going along with their global agenda willingly. ,

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