McConnell Blasts Obama’s Plan to Close Gitmo
February 27, 2009 - 6:55 PMSenate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell criticized plans by the Obama administration to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects. "The Obama administration has not answered one simple question: 'Where exactly will you send them?'" McConnell told conservatives activists on Friday.
McConnell, in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday, said the administration has some explaining to do:
“The Obama administration has not answered one simple question: ‘Where exactly will you send them?’” McConnell said. “I’ll tell you where they ought to be … right there in jail at Gitmo.”
McConnell’s criticism of the administration’s plans to close Gitmo within the next year came in the same week that a Department of Defense study found the prison in compliance with international human rights standards set by the Geneva Convention -- and just days after Attorney General Eric Holder visited the prison.
Holder spoke well of the prison’s management. However, he also said it was the intention of the administration to close Gitmo within a year because of allegations that terror suspects had been tortured there.
“This new administration should show more concern for safety than symbolism,” McConnell said. “The new attorney general said it was a well-run facility and was impressed with the people in charge, and that the prisoners needed to be moved out of there as quickly as possible and shut it down in a year.”
Earlier last week, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Republican Caucus, told CNSNews.com that Republicans in Congress would fight the administration’s plan to shut down the prison.
The 81-page Pentagon report, ordered by the Obama administration, concluded: “After considerable deliberation and a comprehensive review, it is our judgment that the conditions of confinement in Guantanamo are in conformity with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.”
The report also noted that the prison keeps its thermostat set between 75 and 80 degrees, provides art classes to the prisoners, and holds a library of 13,000 books, 900 magazines, 300 DVDs and regular TV programs. Also, there is a “detainee newsletter.”
The task force assigned to review Gitmo was headed by Admiral Patrick Walsh, vice chief of Naval Operations, who told reporters Monday that the investigation was conducted over 13 days and consisted of more than 100 interviews including prisoners and guards.
“All interrogations are voluntary; approximately one-third of the sessions are at detainees’ request,” the report states. “Given the length of time that most detainees have spent at Guantanamo, the primary focus of the interrogation is to gather security and force protection information related to the operations of detention camps. The current nature of the intelligence mission lends itself to the use of direct approaches and small incentive items to encourage detainees to volunteer information.”
Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention, which requires humane treatment of prisoners of war, says, “Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ‘hors de combat’ by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.”