Contact: Josh Holly-202.226.3988
Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Republican Duncan Hunter (R-CA) today sent a letter to President Bush urging him to continue detaining dangerous terrorists at the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“It is my view that Guantanamo serves an essential national security function. The military has reviewed the situation of every detainee at Guantanamo, and determined that, if released, they would continue to pose a threat of rejoining al-Qaeda or the Taliban. The danger that these detainees pose is indisputable. The intelligence community has confirmed that a sizeable number of detainees released from Guantanamo rejoined hostilities in Afghanistan and were either killed or captured on the battlefield,” wrote Hunter.
“As a result, detainee operations at Guantanamo must continue. The United States Government has a duty to the American people not to release those who would return to the fight and pose a threat to Americans or our coalition partners. Moreover, there is no practical alternative to Guantanamo,” continued Hunter.
In the letter, Hunter argued that moving detainees to facilities in the United States is both “misguided” and “dangerous.” Specifically, he highlighted the danger of importing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11th terrorist attacks on America, into American communities.
“Importing terrorists, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, into American communities will have severe implications on our national security: it will undermine our current detention operations by parceling out the detainees to different facilities across the country, as no single facility can currently house all the Guantanamo detainees; it will create an opportunity for these dangerous enemies to recruit and disseminate their terrorist skills; it will increase the threat of an attempted escape and endanger American civilians if there were such an escape; it will make these domestic detention facilities prime targets for any terrorist attack that al-Qaeda is able to mount within our borders; and it will have severe implications on our detainee policy because it will introduce uncertainties about the unlawful enemy combatants’ Constitutional rights,” stated Hunter.
Hunter concluded by addressing the impact the transfer of Guantanamo detainees into the United States would have on America’s broader detainee policy, which was enhanced last year in the Military Commissions Act.
“Once these detainees are brought onto U.S. soil, the detainees may acquire minimal rights under the Constitution, in particular, the right to habeas corpus. This change in status will inevitably spawn a completely new round of litigation. While I believe the Combatant Status Review Tribunals that all detainees at Guantanamo receive satisfy those rights, it would take years of further litigation to finally reach that result. Thus, the military commission process would be stalled for the foreseeable future, and none of the detainees at Guantanamo would be brought to justice.
“Some would like this result; they would prefer to see terrorists tried under our federal criminal justice system. This is a false choice. We cannot try terrorists for war crimes if it requires our soldiers to read terrorists Miranda rights or take a battalion of lawyers onto the battlefield. Military commissions are crucial because they are crafted for the conduct of war by providing procedures flexible enough to account for the constraints and conditions of the battlefield.”
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