Amendment to defense bill aimed at preventing terrorists from reengaging in fight against U.S.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, took to the Senate floor yesterday to offer an amendment to the annual defense bill that would prevent terrorist detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay from being transferred to American soil. The measure also includes provisions that restrict the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to countries in which former Guantanamo detainees have reengaged in terrorism, and prevents the use of taxpayer dollars to construct or modify facilities in the U.S. for the purposes of housing current Guantanamo detainees. In a vote of 43 to 55, the measure was not agreed to, despite receiving bipartisan support.
During remarks on the Senate floor today, both Senators expressed concerns that current provisions in the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act would make it easier to transfer Guantanamo detainees to foreign countries, such as Yemen, or to the United States.
“The only thing that has changed during the past year with respect to Guantanamo is that the percentage of former Guantanamo detainees who have returned to terrorism has increased,” said Senator Ayotte. “There is no national security justification for gutting common sense restrictions related to the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to foreign countries, nor for bringing some of the most dangerous al Qaeda terrorists from Guantanamo to the U.S. Since we remain at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates, our single-minded focus, consistent with our laws and our values, must be the interrogation of enemy combatants to gather the intelligence necessary to prevent future attacks.”
“While calling for the closure of Guantanamo Bay makes a great campaign talking point, doing so will undermine good intelligence collection and increase the risk that the dangerous detainees who are held there will be back on the streets plotting to kill Americans,” said Senator Chambliss. “On a daily basis, America faces terrorist threats from all over the world, and intelligence collection is vital to ensuring that these threats do not become reality. Yet, for over four years, the president has stubbornly failed to offer any viable, long-term detention and interrogation policy for current and future Guantanamo detainees so that we can collect intelligence and keep terrorists from returning to the fight. My amendment with Sen. Ayotte would continue the common-sense limits and requirements that Congress, with the support of the American people, has placed in recent years on the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees, and ensure that Guantanamo detainees are not brought to the United States. With the recidivism rate at nearly 29% and rising, our nation cannot afford anything less.”
SUMMARY OF AYOTTE-CHAMBLISS AMENDMENT:
· Maintains restrictions from last year related to the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to foreign countries and entities, including restrictions related to reengagement in terrorism and transfers to countries that are state sponsors of terrorism
· Prohibits for one year the transfer of current Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. This prohibition would not apply to individuals transferred to Gitmo after the date of the enactment of NDAA.
· Restricts all U.S. government funds from being used for the construction or modification of facilities in the U.S. for the purposes of housing individuals currently detained at Guantanamo
· Prohibits the transfer or release of any Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, which is home to Al Qaeda’s most dangerous affiliate, through December 31, 2014
· Prohibits the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. for temporary medical treatment. If the medical facilities at Guantanamo are good enough for our service members, they should be good enough for terrorist detainees.