Transcript: Testimony by Frank Gaffney on closing Guantanamo – July 24, 2013

Partial transcript of the testimony by Frank Gaffney, Founder and President of the Center for Security Policy and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for National Security Policy under the Reagan administration, on “Closing Guantanamo: The National Security, Fiscal and Human Rights Implications.” The hearing was held before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights on July 24, 2013.

…I appreciate the chance to testify on this issue. I recognize that I am in the distinct minority on this panel but I take comfort from the fact that I think I represent the vast majority of Americans and certainly the vast majority of those of you in Congress on this question: Should Gitmo be closed? And I think the answer is resoundingly no, unless there is a better alternative available to it.

I’d like to describe why I think there is not a better alternative available by putting this into context, if I may, and that is to describe why we have Gitmo in the first place. It is because we are at war.

This is a point that is seemingly lost on a lot of us who talk about this in sort of an abstract concept that somehow this detention facility can be removed from that overarching problem.

We’re not just at war. We’re at war because others attacked us.

And in your wisdom, you here in the Congress gave the authority to fight back.

I’m afraid that increasingly, however, we’ve lost sight as to who it is we are fighting with. And again, I think that bears directly on the question before you all today.

We are fighting, I would suggest, against people who adhere to a doctrine they call “sharia”. Not all Muslims do but those that are engaged at this point – [interrupted by crowd]

…Those that do adhere to this doctrine believe it is their obligation to destroy us, to force us to submit to their will. That bears directly upon this question of what happens if they are allowed to return to the battlefield.

And I think we all agree recidivism among those who are released from Gitmo is a problem.

Perhaps, as you said yourself, I think, Mr. Chairman, it’s not as bad as recidivism in the federal prison system. That’s a sobering thought, which again I would argue suggest that we don’t want to put these prisoners into the federal prison system if it’s even worse than it is at Gitmo.

The main point is if the commitment these prisoners have, should they be allowed out, is to wage this jihad, as they call it, against us until we submit, it adds urgency to the question that Sen. [Ted] Cruz asked, which is how do you prevent that from happening?

And I would, with the greatest of respects say, I find unconvincing the idea that any of these problems are made more tractable by simply moving these people into the United States.

For one thing, it does raise a question as to whether the cost that we’re paying – and several of you have alluded to this excessive, wasteful, inefficient cost – but how much has it meant that not a single one of these people or any of their friends have been able to attack us because of their proximity to a federal detention facility inside the United States? How many American lives have been spared as a result? There’s no way to know for sure. But are you feeling lucky? Do you want to take a chance?

My guess is you will find much more violence inside the federal prison system not least because these individuals will be engaged in proselytizing their form of Islam – sharia – inside the prison system.

But beyond that, you will have almost certainly their colleagues trying to do what was done in Iraq yesterday but Al Qaeda, which is to try to spring them, or the least inflict harm on an American community that has the misfortune – perhaps the Thomson correctional facility community as an example – has the misfortune of incarcerating these people.

My concern is that – let’s just set aside the numbers that you might or might not feel you can safely push out. There are a number – an unknown number – the President has apparently said it’s 46 – that you can never try. Do you honestly think that the people behind me and the people who are impelling this hearing will stop caviling for the release of those prisoners just because they’re now in the United States?

And finally, I would just say to you – you know better than I – federal judges inside this country will almost certainly look at least some of them with sympathy on the claim that these prisoners once they’re inside the United States, once they’re entitled to all kinds of constitutional rights they might not otherwise have in places like Gitmo, that would perhaps result in their release inside the United States. I find that beyond malfeasance were we to go down that road. It is dereliction of duty and I pray you will not close Gitmo, and I hope my testimony will encourage you not to do that.


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