November 16, 2009
House Democrats Delay Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations Bill Over Republican Motion on Guantanamo Bay
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Appropriations Committee Ranking Republican Jerry Lewis today criticized the Democrat leadership in the U.S. House for delaying conference committee negotiations on the FY 2010 Commerce, Science, Justice (CJS) Appropriations bill due to a likely Republican motion to stop the transfer or release of prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Democrat leaders had previously announced that they would today appoint conferees to the CJS conference committee in order to begin negotiations with the Senate over the final version of the legislation. However, the move was postponed when it became likely that Republicans would offer a motion to include language in the report to prohibit the transfer or release of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay – including for the purposes of prosecution in the U.S. A similar motion overwhelmingly passed the House last month on a bipartisan 258-163 vote.
The House-passed CJS Appropriations bill contains language to restrict the transfer and release of Guantanamo Bay detainees, but does not contain any provision to halt the transfer of prisoners to the U.S. for prosecution. Any committee action would come on the heels of an Obama Administration move to bring five terrorists currently detained at Guantanamo Bay – including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who masterminded the 9/11 terrorist attacks – to New York for trial in civilian court.
Lewis stated his strong concern over this dangerous policy, and urged immediate action to halt these transfers and stop the closure of Guantanamo Bay.
“The transfer of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S. is a dangerous, expensive, and unnecessary risk that the American people are not willing to take. By postponing the CJS conference negotiations today, Democrat leaders are disregarding the will of American citizens who do not want hardened terrorists housed in U.S. prisons and tried in civilian courts. Democrat leaders should immediately allow Congress to block President Obama’s ill-conceived campaign pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay facility and transfer detainees to the U.S.,” Lewis said.
CJS Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Republican Frank Wolf also expressed his concern over the transfer and release of Guantanamo detainees.
“Bringing terrorists to the United States for trial is a mistake. Terrorists like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, should be tried by a military court, and if convicted, sent to the appropriate prison. There is an incorrect assumption that the terrorists being brought to the United States for trial are going to a Supermax prison. They won’t be. They are going be held in a local jail near the courthouse where they will be tried and could be there for years. Doesn’t anyone remember the length of Zacarias Moussaoui’s trial? It lasted more than four years.”
“The Administration and Democrat leaders must accept the fact that closing Guantanamo and transferring detainees will not make America safer. We can safely and justly try these terrorist enemies of the state right where they are – in an existing, state of the art military courtroom at Guantanamo Bay,” Lewis added.