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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 10, 2009 2:30am-3:00am EDT

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on another subject. we've had kind of a running debate here on the question of closing guantanamo prison. this is a subject that the senate has spoken on by an overwhelming vote, i think, 90-some senators voted not to close gitmo and the american people are 3-1 opposed to bringing gitmo prisoners into the state and 2-1 in opposition to closing guantanamo prison. this is not something on which there is a little bit of doubt. the american people are very much opposed to closing guantanamo prison and bringing those people to their own states. nevertheless the assistant majority leader and five other
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democrats voted for the proposing of money or the -- actually, the appropriation of money -- to close guantanamo and acknowledge that it would require bringing many of those people to the united states. well i happen to agree with senator mcconnell, this is a bad idea. and with the other 89 senators would agreed, it's a bad until until we have some kind of plan to do it. so i was struck this morning when the senator from illinois said, well, he said, here's the proof of why we should close the guantanamo prison. we just have an announcement we are going to try a terrorist here in the united states. and that proves we can close gitmo. well, it doesn't prove that it doesn't prove anything. what it proves is you can try somebody in the united states courts. we've done that with a few terrorists. and it's not a pleasant experience. the one that most of us recall here in the washington, d.c. area was the trial across the
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river in. mr. alexander: the -- in alexan, virginia, o, and much of the evidence that was gained to try him was classified and could not be shared with him and there were significant questions of due process as a result. how can you try somebody for a serious crime and not show them the evidence against them? that's when of the main reasons why it's very difficult to try these terrorists for crimes. the second problem is, the security issue, and the people in virginia and alexandria in the county will tell you it was a costly and difficult thing for them to be able to conduct this trial of zarqawi there. but it was possible and it was possible to get a conviction, i suggest, primarily because of decisions he made, but it was possible to do so.
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and, everybody acknowledges that there are some people who need to be tried for serious crimes. in effect, like war crimes. and that they should be tried in united states courts. it doesn't make it easy but it can be done. what it doesn't prove is that should be done for all of the people at gitmo. in fact, not even the president suggests that. the president, in his speech a few weeks ago, acknowledged that many of the prisoners at gitmo now are infer goin never going a trial. they are being held until the termination of the hostilities that have caused them to be captured and imprisoned in the first place and they are like prisoners of war who can be detained until the war is over. here, however, they don't even have the rights of prisoners of war under the geneva accords because they do not adhere to
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the rules of war. they don't fight with uniforms for a nation-state and so on. they, in fact, are terrorists. is they are still allowed humane treatment but they don't is the same rights as prisoners of war. that means as the president acknowledged, as the united states supreme court has averaged, we have a right to hold them until the cessation of hostilities so they don't kill anymore people. you can't just turn them loose. now, the president, in his speech, made the point that at least 60, i think, is the number used, of these prisoners had been released and they were released by the bush administration. that's true. the bush administration was under a lot of pressure to try to release as many of these people who were being held as possible. and so they held determinations. they have a determination once a year and initially as to what the status of the individual is and whether he is still a danger and eventually in many of the cases they decided that the person could be released back to
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their home country or to a country that would take them and it wouldn't pose a danger to the united states. the problem is, there's a very high rate of recidivism among the terrorisms. one in seven are believed to have returned to the battlefield and we have evidence of many of them, specifically by name, who returned and who caused a lot of death. there are two in particular, i recall, who both eventually engaged in sow side bombing attack -- in suicide bombing attacks killing 20 in one instance and at least half a dozen in another instance. so even when you try your best to make a determination that's fair to the individual, but you don't want to hold people beyond the time they should be held that they no longer pose a danger, you make mistaxes and release people back to the battlefield who will try to kill you and who will certainly try to kill others and your allies and they do, do so.
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that is a risk but not a risk we should lightly take. the remaining 240-some prisoners at guantanamo are the worst of the worst, people whom i it is difficult to say, they don't pose a danger anymore. we have been through those. and one in seven of those have actually gone off and killed people so you have 240 of the worst of the worst and the president went through the different things that can happen to them. some of them, a limited number, will be tried in u.s. courts like this terrorist senator durbin spoke of. it's hard to do. there are a lot of issues with it but we will try to try some of them. others can be tried with military commissions. others will not be able to be tried. they will have to be held and there may be a few who we deem no longer a threat to us and they will have to be released but to whom, nobody knows, because nobody appears -- well, the french will take one of
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them. i think there may be another european country that said they, maybe the germans, will take one. that still leaves a lot to go. the bottom line here is that many are going to have to be detained. the question is, where do you detain them i? my colleague from illinois said others agreed you should close gitmo even my colleague from arizona but he didn't say before we have a plan to do so. and he himself has acknowledged this is really hard to do. and while he would like to close it as he himself has said, i don't know how you do it, you can't do it without a plan or based upon a tame tiebl that th- timetable the president is talking about. it is one thing say telling is nice to close it and another to figure out how to do it that would be safe for the american people. finally, just a point i want to mention here, well, two final points. the senator from illinois said this is a problem that he -- meaning the president -- inherited. no, madam president, the
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president didn't inherit the problem of having to come up with a plan to close gitmo by next january 20th. the president made that problem himself. he was sworn into office within three days and he said we are going to close gitmo within 12 months. now, that is an arbitrary deadline i submit he should not have imposed on himself or the country because it will cause bad decisions to be made. we may have to try more people like this terrorist ghalini in the united states than we want to. we will have to find, i gather, facilities in which these people can be held here if the united states. the f.b.i. director, robert mueller himself, testified before the house of representatives, that posed a lot of problems, real risks for the united states. nobody is saying it can't be done. the question; should it be done? most of us believe, no, it shouldn't be done. there are better alternatives. the final point is this: what's
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wrong with the alternative of the prison at guantanamo? it's a $200 million state-of-the-art facility in which i pointed out yesterday people are very well humanely treated. they have better medical and dental care they ever got in their home countries or fighting us on the battlefield or afghanistan or somewhere else. the bottom line is, this is a top-rate facility, the people there do not mistreat provides mores and that's the myth here. somehow people compare abu ghraib with guantanamo and this brings up the last point. it is argued by my colleague from illinois and others that terrorists recruit based upon the existence of guantanamo prison. now, think about that for a moment. are we going to say because terrorists accuse us of doing something wrong, even though we didn't, we're going to stop any activity in that area because we want to take away that as a recruitment tool? we would have to basically go
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out of business as the united states of america if we were going to take away all the things that terrorists use to recruit people to fight the west. they don't like the way we treat women with equality in the united states or a lot of our social values and they don't like the fact that we hold elections so because that's used as a recruitment tool we are going to stop doing all of that does what sense does this make? we treat people humanely and properly at guantanamo. people were mistreated in another prison called abu ghraib. they are not the same. and abu ghraib, therefore, does not represent the example of what we should be doing with respect to guantanamo. we'll have more debate on this subject. i note that the time is very short and i meant to leave time for my colleague from texas and i hope to engeaj my colleagues in further -- engage my colleagues in further conversation about that that request to speak in morning
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business for 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: for the last month the republican leader from kentucky has come to the floor and argued that we should not move detainees currently in guantanamo, into the united states, even for trial. luckily, the president and the attorney general have the head of the joint military chiefs of staff have come to the conclusion that it's in the best interests of the united states' safety and security that one of these notorious terrorists be brought to the united states for trial. and so it has been announced today that mr. ahmaz ghalani is being brought to the united states, to new york, for trial. luckily this administration is not following the advice and counsel of senator mcconnell and some on his side. it is time for this man to face a trial. what is he being charged with?
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he's being charged as one of those involved in the 1998 embassy attacks in africa. this tanzania national has been held in cuba since september of 2006. he was captured by our forces, and others, in pakistan, in 2004 and transported to guantanamo. he is being charged with his involvement in the 1998 bombings of u.s. embassies in east africa which killed 224 people, including 12 americans. the position being taken by the republicans in the senate is that this man should not be brought to the united states for trial. i think they're wrong. i think it's time that he answer for the crimes that are being charged against him. 12 americans died. as a result of what we believe was his conduct. he needs to be held accountable.
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this argument that he can't be brought to the united states and tried would virtually allow this map to escape the punishment for the crime that we believe he committed. republicans' position that he should not be brought to the united states because somehow if he is being held in a prison in the united states it's a danger to the rest of us? that just cannot be supported in fact. there are 327 convicted terrorists presently being held in u.s. prisons and not one has escaped. in super max facilities, no one has evers scaipped. foevers -- ever escaped and for the republicans to argument we cannot bring this man to trial it leaves him in a position where we may lose our ability to prosecute him. speedy trial requirements of our constitution and the laws of the united states could virtually end up in the united states being unable to prosecute this man if the republican position
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on guantanamo detainees is followed. general colin powell is right, guantanamo needs to be closed. it is a recruiting tool for al qaeda. we know that these individuals can be brought to the united states and tried and safely imprisoned. we've never had an escape from a supermax facility. and we know that to turn these prisoners over to some other country runs the risk that they will be released. dangerous people who threaten the united states should be dealt with by our constitution and laws. the administration has made the right decision that this man be brought to trial in the united states, held accountable for any wrongdoing on his part that led to the deaths of so many hundreds of innocent people at
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