McConnell Questions Release of Gitmo Inmates

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell asked the following questions on the Senate floor Tuesday in advance of the Attorney General’s speech in Berlin:

“Tomorrow night in Berlin, Attorney General Holder is scheduled to deliver a speech about the administration’s plan to shut down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay by the arbitrary deadline of January 2010.

“Many Americans are skeptical of the Administration’s decision to close Guantanamo before it has a plan to deal with the 240 terrorists who are currently housed there. And Americans were rightly alarmed by recent news reports that the Administration is considering releasing some Guantanamo detainees into the U.S. — not to detention facilities, but directly into our neighborhoods.

“Aside from the question of why the Attorney General thinks a German audience should hear about the Administration’s plans for Guantanamo before the American people do, there are a number of questions about the Administration’s plan for releasing terrorists into the United States that I hope the Attorney General will address tomorrow night.

• What is the legal basis for bringing these terrorist-trained detainees to the United States, given that Federal law specifically forbids the entry of anyone who endorses or espouses terrorism, has received terrorist training, or belongs to a terrorist group?

• Can the Administration guarantee the safety of the American people, particularly in the neighborhoods where these terror-trained detainees will live?

• Will the residents of the communities where these men will be released be made aware of it?

• Will these trained terrorists be allowed to travel freely anywhere in the United States?

• What will their status be? Will they be allowed to stay here permanently? Will they be eligible for citizenship?

• Will they receive or be eligible to receive taxpayer funding?

• Why did no other country agree to accept them?

• What threat do these men pose of returning to terrorist activities and what threat assessments have been conducted to evaluate whether these men will attack U.S. troops on the battlefield or Americans at Embassies abroad?

“There are now less than 300 days until the President’s Executive Order mandates the closure of the secure detention facility at Guantanamo and the transfer or release of its remaining detainees. I recognize the difficulty of the challenge these detainees present. But we shouldn’t let an arbitrary deadline and a desire to appease critics overseas lead to decisions that make American citizens less safe.”