News / USA

US Lawmakers Want Guantanamo Bay Detention Center Kept Open

Senators Kelly Ayotte (r) and Joseph Lieberman on Capitol Hill, May 11, 2011
Senators Kelly Ayotte (r) and Joseph Lieberman on Capitol Hill, May 11, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +
Michael Bowman

Days after the Obama administration renewed its vow to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a group of mostly-Republican Senators is introducing legislation that would keep the facility open and designate it as the primary U.S. location for holding and interrogating high-value terror suspects.  

More than two years into the Obama administration, the president’s initial one-year target for closing the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay has long expired.  Now some U.S. lawmakers want to ensure the facility remains open for years to come.

Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut calls it a matter of common sense.

“The prison there has played and continues to play a critical role in keeping America safe," said Lieberman. "Some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world are held at Guantanamo, many of whom would no doubt return to the battlefield to attack Americans if they were released.”

Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire says there is no need to scrap the facility and every reason to keep it.  She and several of her Senate colleagues announced the introduction of legislation Wednesday that would codify Guantanamo Bay’s status as the primary U.S. location for holding and interrogating suspected terrorism detainees.

“It [the bill] reaffirms Guantanamo Bay as the facility that should remain open, not only for those who are currently detained, but for those who are captured in the future," said Ayotte. "It permanently limits the transfer of detainees to foreign countries, and it permanently prohibits funding for the construction of terrorist detention facilities within the United States of America.”

The detention center was opened shortly after the United States invaded Afghanistan, following the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.  Constructed with open-air wire fencing and no plumbing, the original facility led some observers to compare it to a massive dog kennel.  It has been rebuilt several times and now stands as one of the most-modern prisons operated by the U.S. government, affording each detainee a bed, toilet, Muslim worship materials, and a Muslim-appropriate diet.

Recently, Attorney General Eric Holder restated the Obama administration’s intention to close the Guantanamo Bay facility.  Holder gave no timeframe for when that might occur, but he said that doing so would enhance U.S. national security.  Critics have long-described the center as a blight on America’s international reputation, and as a potent propaganda and recruiting tool for terrorist organizers.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says the reality is far different.

“What does the [American] war fighter do tomorrow, if we are fortunate enough to capture someone that we need to hold?  The options are getting limited for our special forces," said Graham. "Without a jail, they are pushed to kill people they would otherwise like to capture.  Or they do exactly what we are trying to prevent - renditioning people [sending them to other countries for interrogation].”

Senator Lieberman says that keeping Guantanamo Bay open is even more critical since U.S. forces killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and seized massive amounts of information at his hideout in Pakistan.

“The new intelligence collected in the raid on bin Laden’s compound increases the likelihood that more terrorists will be captured in the near future," he said. "And we are going to want to have a safe, first-rate facility in which we can house these people in order to keep them off the battlefield and gain intelligence from them.”

Similar legislation is expected to be considered in the House of Representatives as part of the annual U.S. Defense Authorization Bill.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced the reinstitution of military commissions for trying detained alleged co-conspirators in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

In March, Senators Lieberman and Graham introduced legislation that would authorize U.S. presidents to detain suspected terrorists and mandate military custody of detainees unless the secretary of defense certifies that civilian control is preferable.   

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid