WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement in response to remarks made by Attorney General Eric Holder following his recent visit to GITMO on Monday. The remarks today, as reported by the Associated Press, are the first since Holder's return.
"I am not at all surprised to hear the Attorney General return with a glowing report about conditions at Gitmo," Senator Inhofe said. "Just as I have found in my visits to Gitmo, and as apparently will be stated in an upcoming Pentagon report, we know Gitmo meets the highest international standards and is a fundamental part of protecting the lives of Americans from terrorism.
"I am also pleased to hear that the Attorney General understands closing Gitmo will take time and will not be an easy process. I believe as more time goes by there is a chance Administration will grow to realize that we need Gitmo and must keep it open. More time will allow facts to replace political rhetoric.
"The fact remains we need Gitmo because it is the only complex in the world that can safely and humanely hold these individuals who pose such a grave security risk to our nation. It is a secure location away from population centers that protects communities from both potential escapes as well as attacks, 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.
Senator Inhofe introduced legislation (S.370) to prevent the detainees at Guantanamo from being relocated anywhere on American soil. Earlier this month, Senator Inhofe led a Congressional Delegation to Guantanamo Bay to see firsthand the state of the prison operations and get the facts out about its critical role in keeping U.S. national security.
AG Holder: Closing Gitmo won't be easy
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday the Guantanamo detention center is a well-run, professional facility that will be difficult to close — but he's still going to do it. Holder visited the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Monday and spoke to reporters about his trip during a news conference Wednesday. Closing Guantanamo, he said, "will not be an easy process. It's one we will do in a way that ensures that people are treated fairly and that the American people are kept safe." President Barack Obama selected Holder to lead the new administration's effort to close the detention facility within a year. Much of the year will be spent reviewing the individual case histories of the roughly 245 inmates, the attorney general said. "It's going to take us a good portion of that time to look at all of the files that we have to examine, until we get our hands around what Guantanamo is, and also what Guantanamo was," he said. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who is trying to keep Guantanamo open, said he was encouraged by Holder's remarks. "I believe as more time goes by there is a chance the administration will grow to realize that we need Gitmo and must keep it open. More time will allow facts to replace political rhetoric," said Inhofe, who is pushing legislation seeking to bar any Guantanamo detainees from coming to the U.S. Holder said his visit to the site was instructive. He met with military officials and toured the facilities, including the court setting where military commissions were to be held until Obama suspended them. He said he did not witness any rough treatment of detainees, and in fact found the military staff and leadership performing admirably. "I did not witness any mistreatment of prisoners. I think, to the contrary, what I saw was a very conscious attempt by these guards to conduct themselves in an appropriate way," he said. The attorney general said none of those impressions alters the administration's goal of closing Guantanamo by January 2010. "It does not in any way decrease our determination to close the facility, even though as I said it is being well-run now," he said. In his confirmation hearings before the Senate, Holder said lawyers will have to examine each detainee's case, and determine who can be brought to the U.S. for a criminal trial, sent to foreign countries or tried and held by the U.S. in some other fashion.