Retired Commandant of the Marine Corps: Congressional Ban on Guantanamo Transfers Would Undermine National Security
Washington, DC – Following news that the U.S. Senate’s version of the 2011 Omnibus Appropriations bill contains language that blocks transfers of Guantanamo detainees into the United States for any purpose before September 30, 2011 or until Congress passes a new defense authorization bill lifting the ban, General Charles Krulak (USMC, Ret.) issued the following statement: “Delaying federal court trials for terror suspects held at Guantanamo undermines our national security, erodes the prosecutorial discretion of the executive branch, and is tantamount to an obstruction of justice. By trying terrorist suspects in civilian courts we deprive them of the warrior status they crave and treat them as the criminals and thugs they are. The proposed provision, on the other hand, threatens to tie the President’s hands and restrict his use of perhaps the most effective counterterrorism tool in his toolbox—the American criminal justice system. Guantanamo is a recruiting poster for terrorists, and as long as it remains open, we are less secure. In addition, our allies are becoming less willing to cooperate with us when we use a second tier system of justice. As General Petraeus has made clear in urging closure of Guantanamo, and as I deeply believe, we ‘should live our values.’ We cannot defend freedom around the world while shying away from delivering justice here at home. The Senate should reject the reckless language included in the spending bill.” Last week, in a letter sent to Democrats in the Senate, a group of 17 military leaders, co-chaired by General Krulak, urged the Senators to reject language from the House of Representatives’ spending measure that restricted Guantanamo transfers. The letter said, “We urge you to oppose any restrictions proposed for inclusion in the fiscal year 2011 funding bill that would put politics before American values and national security and hinder the President from bringing suspected terrorists to justice.” General Charles Krulak served as Commandant of the United States Marine Corps from 1995-1999. He co-chairs a group of retired generals and admirals that advocate for the end to torture, the closure of Guantanamo, and fair trials for terror suspects.