Coalition Calls for President Obama to Keep Gitmo Open — and Keep Its Detainees Confined There
(Washington, D.C.): The Coalition for Security, Liberty and the Law – a group of military, intelligence, and security policy professionals with substantial national security experience – has sent a letter to President Obama urging him not to veto the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (NDAA) over restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States, and to instead let those restrictions stand.
The letter also notes that Guantanamo Bay is humane and uniquely secure, and that there is little evidence to suggest that the facility has played a significant role in the recruitment of terrorists to al Qaeda or affiliated organizations.
Signers of the letter (the full text of which can be found below)
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., President and CEO of the Center for Security Policy, stated: “As President Obama has yet to withdraw from his misguided pledge to close the detention/interrogation facility at Guantanamo Bay, it is imperative that he hear from military and security experts who understand the risks to national security associated with keeping this pledge. The President should put national security before politics and allow the provisions of the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting the transfer of Gitmo detainees into the United States to become law.”
About the Center for Security Policy
The Center for Security Policy is a non-profit, non-partisan national security organization that specializes in identifying policies, actions, and resource needs that are vital to American security and then ensures that such issues are the subject of both focused, principled examination and effective action by recognized policy experts, appropriate officials, opinion leaders, and the general public. For more information visit www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org.
Coalition for Security, Liberty and the Law
20 December, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As you are aware, the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2013 – the final text of which was agreed upon recently by House of Representatives and Senate Conferees, and will soon come to a vote before both bodies – contains a provision prohibiting the use of federal funds to transfer terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay to facilities inside the United States.
Our past experience as military, intelligence, and security policy professionals leads us to believe that the transfer of Guantanamo detainees into the United States would threaten national security and public safety. We therefore urge you not to veto the NDAA over this provision and instead allow it to stand.
Detainees transferred to U.S. prison facilities would turn those prisons – and nearby civilian populations – into terrorist targets. Based on past experience in Guantanamo, they would expose prison staff to unique threats, physical risks and legal liabilities. It is also likely that detainees, with help from counsel, would pressure prison officials to remove special security restrictions. If successful in such efforts, the detainees could have opportunities to radicalize the prison population – a risk previously noted by FBI Director Robert Mueller.
To the extent that detainees would receive criminal trials if transferred to the United States, such trials would entail granting due process and other rights that may force the government to choose between revealing classified evidence to secure a conviction in a U.S. court or dropping charges against dangerous terrorists.
Some have argued that Guantanamo remains a symbol of “torture”, and therefore a recruitment tool for terrorists that must be shut down. However, Guantanamo is not only a highly humane and – according to Attorney General Eric Holder – a “well-run, professional facility”, it is also uniquely secure in ways that cannot be replicated at detention facilities within the United States. Additionally, there is little evidence that Guantanamo has played a significant role in the recruitment of terrorists to al Qaeda or its affiliates.
For these reasons, we believe strongly that the detainees should not be transferred to any locale in the United States or its territories, and should instead be kept at Guantanamo Bay. The potential national and local security risks associated with transferring detainees to the United States greatly outweigh any perceived benefits for American foreign policy or national security if such closure were to take place.
Hon. Michael B. Mukasey, former Attorney General of the United States
R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence
Adm. Jerome L. Johnson, USN (Ret.)
Adm. James “Ace” Lyons, USN (Ret.)
Lt. Gen. E.G. “Buck” Shuler, Jr., USAF (Ret.)
Brig. Gen. William A. Bloomer, USMC (Ret.)
Brig. Gen. William Weise, USMC (Ret.)
Tidal McCoy, former Acting Secretary of the Air Force
Andrew C. McCarthy, former Chief Assistant United States Attorney
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy
Debra Burlingame, 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America
Elaine Donnelly, 1992 Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Services