February 10, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today spoke at the National Press Club to highlight the importance of keeping Guantanamo Bay Prison (GITMO) open. Move America Forward, a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization committed to supporting America’s efforts to defeat terrorism and supporting the brave men and women of our Armed Forces, hosted the press conference, which revealed the organization’s new ad “Keep GITMO Open!” The press conference also featured 9/11 families, Gold Star families and others united by President Obama’s order to close GITMO in one year. Below are Senator Inhofe’s comments as prepared for delivery:
“I am glad to join Move America Forward today as they unveil their latest television ad on keeping GITMO open, as well as the Gold Star and 9/11 families. Move America Forward is fighting the good fight, and I strongly support their mission and have urged my colleagues in Congress to do so as well. I am especially proud to be here with Melanie Morgan, the Chairman of Move America Forward who recently toured Guantanamo, and Gold Star mom Debbie Lee, the mother of Marc Alan Lee who was the first Navy SEAL to be killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, who also toured the camp. I had the opportunity to meet with Debbie in my D.C. office yesterday and hear her touching story.
“In light of the recent announcements by President Obama to close the detention facility within a year, I believe it is important for the American people to know the truth and the real value of this installation and its contribution to the security of the United States.
“Last week, I led a Congressional Delegation to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to give an eyewitness account and allow the American public to hear the truth from someone who had actually been there, rather than the scores of Members of Congress who hold blind objection without any attempt to look into it on their own.
“I also introduced legislation (S.370) to prevent any transfers of detainees from Guantanamo to anywhere in the United States or its territories.
“The military detention facilities at GITMO meet the highest international standards and are a fundamental part of protecting the lives of Americans from terrorism. Current treatment and oversight exceed any maximum-security prison in the world. There are 127 doctors, nurses and medical technicians dedicated to caring for and maintaining the health of each detainee - a ratio of 1:2 (one health care professional for every two detainees). There are on average, two lawyers for every detainee that has been charged or had charges preferred against them. The Expeditionary Legal Complex (ELC) located at GITMO is the only one of its kind in the world. It provides a secure location to secure and try detainees charged by the US government, full access to sensitive and classified information, full access to defense lawyers and prosecution, and full media access by the press.
“The detainee complex at GITMO is the only complex in the world that can safely and humanely hold these individuals who pose such a grave security risk to the United States. It is a secure location away from population centers, provides the maximum security required to prevent escape, provides multiple levels of confinement opportunities based on the compliance of the detainee, and provides medical care not available to a majority of the population of the world. If GITMO is no longer a prison, some United States domestic or overseas prison will have to house these detainees while they await a hearing and trial. Moving these detainees to the United States would increase the risk to national security and complicate the judicial process through which these detainees are tried.
“Before we rush to close GITMO, I ask President Obama and my colleagues who have never visited GITMO to make time and visit GITMO. They owe it to themselves and the American public to see and understand what is going on there, how detainees are being held, and the legal process that has been put I place to ensure detainees receive a fair and impartial trial.”