Lewis Reponse to President's Speech on Guantanamo: Security of Americans Must be the Top Priority

Apr 12, 2011
Press Release

Security of Americans Must be the Top Priority
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Jerry Lewis, Ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, made the following statement in response to President Obama’s speech today regarding the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
“The President’s speech today is just more of the same vague promises and noble rhetoric with little substance to back it up.
“While these public overtures are well and good, the truth remains that transferring known terrorists into the United States or releasing them abroad is a risk to the American people. We cannot ignore the fact that one in seven of the detainees released so far has returned to violent extremism. And, FBI Director Robert Mueller said this week that moving detainees to American prisons would risk ‘the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States.’
“This Congress has made it clear that we will not blindly follow the President down this path at the expense of the security and peace of mind of the people we represent. That is why Republicans and Democrats in Congress have joined together in recent days to overwhelmingly oppose the use of taxpayer funds to close Guantanamo and transfer the detainees to the U.S.
“However, even as President Obama made his speech today, his Administration is proceeding with the transfer of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani from the Guantanamo Bay Detention facility to U.S. soil.  This dangerous Al Qaeda operative was the mastermind behind the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that killed over 200 innocent people. Other transfers or releases into the U.S. could soon follow.
“Americans have the right to have a say in whether detainees like Ghailani should be moved into their communities. They have the right to know the risks involved. They have the right to be guaranteed that these people will cause them no harm or endanger their way of life. And, they have the right to demand that their government has an adequate and safe strategy for dealing with these known terrorists BEFORE moving them out of Guantanamo.
“Despite President Obama’s assurances today, there still is no real plan for dealing with Guantanamo detainees. There is no real plan for bringing them to justice. And, there is no requirement to guarantee the safety of the American people.
“Until the Obama Administration presents an adequate plan that makes the safety and security of all Americans the priority, these detainees must be not be transferred into our communities.”

112th Congress