Dear Mr. McCarty:
Thank you for your letter regarding the United States detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This is an important issue, and I welcome the opportunity to share my point of view with you.
I continue to support the closure of Guantanamo Bay, consistent with the need to prosecute, transfer, or hold the remaining detainees appropriately.
Upon taking office in January 2009, President Obama ordered that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba be closed within a year. He also established task forces, which reviewed U.S. interrogation and detention policies and evaluated how individuals currently held at Guantanamo should be handled – whether to prosecute them, transfer them to the custody of other nations, or continue to detain them in other circumstances. For various reasons, as you may be aware, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is still in operation today.
I have long felt that Guantanamo has tarnished the American image abroad and done great harm to our Nation's efforts to combat international terrorism. In 2007, I introduced the first legislation in the Senate to require closure of the facility. I continue to believe that the United States is capable of handling the detainees at Guantanamo Bay through alternatives that utilize the strengths of the American justice system without compromising national security, including the option of prosecuting detainees for violations of U.S. law or the law of war – both in federal criminal courts and military commissions.
Our federal courts, judges, and prosecutors are the best in the world. They have proven to be fully capable of dealing with extremely dangerous persons, classified intelligence, and other factors, as was the case with Ahmed Ghailani, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee. On January 25, 2011, a federal judge sentenced Mr. Ghailani to life in prison for conspiracy to destroy the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. This case shows that despite recent criticism of putting terrorists on trial in our federal court system, federal courts continue to deliver the punishment that terrorists deserve.
On April 24, 2011, the organization WikiLeaks released over 700 files related to Guantanamo Bay detainees. This was the fourth leak of classified U.S. government documents by WikiLeaks; previously, the organization released files related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and cables from the U.S. Department of State. I believe these leaks have seriously harmed the national security of the United States.
In regard to the Guantanamo documents themselves, I believe they demonstrate that, in addition to terrorists who participated in attacks against the United States, innocent individuals were wrongly imprisoned for years at Guantanamo Bay. The documents show that many of those detained at the facility should not have been.
Again, thank you for your letter. Please be assured that I will continue to do everything necessary to achieve the goal of closing Guantanamo in an effective and safe manner. If you have any additional comments or questions, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. staff at (202) 224-3841.
United States Senator