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MPAC Submits Statement of Record at Senate Gitmo Hearing

It's Time to Close Detention Center

July 25, 2013


Yesterday, MPAC submitted statement for the record at the Closing Guantanamo: The National Security, Fiscal and Human Rights Implications, held by the Senate Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The statement emphasized the necessity for the prison to be shut down in the name of our national security, fiscal security and moral standing in the international community.

SEE: MPAC’s Statement for the Record (mpac.org)

The hearing, by order of Chairman Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), debated the lack of merits the detention facility holds.

"It's time to lift these restrictions and move forward with shutting down Guantánamo prison," Durbin said. “We can transfer most of the detainees to foreign countries," he said. "And we can bring the others to the United States, where they can be tried in federal court or held under the law of war until the end of hostilities.”

Testimony from key witnesses proved that leaving the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center open makes our nation less safe and acts as a recruiting tool for terrorists to continue to attack Americans.

The hearing witnesses included:

  • Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, U.S. Army (Ret.)
  • Brig. Gen. Stephen N. Xenakis, M.D.. U.S. Army (Ret.)
  • Lt. Joshua M. Fryday, Judge Advocate General's Corps for the U.S. Navy
  • Frank Gaffney, Founder and President of the Center for Security Policy
  • Elisa Massimino, President and Chief Executive Officer of Human Rights First
  • Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA)
  • Rep. Mike Pompeo, (R-KS)

Smith and Pompeo offered widely divergent opinions on the prison’s future with Pompeo a member of the House intelligence committee, calling Guantánamo "critical to national security." The risk of closing the detention center and bringing prisoners to the US is the "potential for endless litigation and rights expanded well beyond those afforded to enemy combatants," he said.

Smith, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said there is no benefit to keeping Guantánamo open. All the arguments about the need to detain and interrogate terror suspects and the necessity to continue to fight the war on terror can be accomplished by holding prisoners in the US, he said.

"It's just been stupefying over the last several years the degree with which people seem to have become unaware that we already hold hundreds of terrorists in United States supermax prisons," Smith said.

As of Wednesday, 69 of the prisoners were on hunger strike and 45 of those were being force fed.

Congressional gridlock, indecisions and wasted taxpayers’ money are keeping Gitmo open. Keeping the facility open costs $177 million per year on average, with the Department of Defense recently requesting $200 million dollars more to renovate the facility. The average cost to house a criminal in a high-security facility in the U.S. is less than $30,000; compare that to more than $1 million for each of the detainees. This indeed is outrageous.

MPAC continues to advocate for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

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