WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) released the following statement after President Obama announced plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and transfer as many as 60 terrorist detainees to U.S. soil. The administration last month released 16 detainees and today announced plans to release an additional 35 detainees in the next few months.
“A bipartisan majority in Congress will stop the transfer of terrorists to the U.S. and will not allow these prisoners to gain the same legal rights as American citizens. Over the last decade, American taxpayers have spent more than $5 billion to safely and humanely house foreign terrorist detainees captured on the battlefield – Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards, bomb makers, terrorist trainers, recruiters, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and the terrorists involved in the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors. I held up Senate passage of the National Defense Authorization Act in 2010 until Congress included the prohibition of Gitmo detainee transfers to the U.S. and blocked the use of Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois, and now I stand with Senators Scott, Gardner and Roberts in support of keeping terrorists out of our constituents’ backyards.”
Blocking the Transfer of Gitmo Detainees
- The FY16 omnibus contained Senator Kirk-driven language to block the transfer of Gitmo detainees to the U.S. and to prohibit the construction of any facility on American soil to house Gitmo detainees. These Kirk provisions have been included in annual appropriations bills since FY11.
- Senator Kirk wanted this language in order to block the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense from acting on a 2009 Presidential memorandum to relocate detainees to Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois.
- The omnibus also requires notification of any agreement reached between the U.S. and another country regarding the transfer or release of Gitmo detainees.
Additional Kirk Actions
- Senator Kirk led a group of senators in a letter urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to reduce foreign aid to Ghana if the country is unable to hold and monitor the two detainees transferred there and ensure they do not reengage in terrorist activities.
- Senator Kirk co-sponsored S. 165, Detaining Terrorists to Protect America Act of 2015, to prohibit the transfer or release of Gitmo prisoners.
- Senator Kirk requested language in the FY12 CJS Appropriations bill to prohibit the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
- In the 112th Congress, Senator Kirk authored S. 209 to prohibit the use of funds to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to the U.S.
- In 2011, Senator Kirk wrote Attorney General Eric Holder requesting the reversal of efforts to move Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Thomson, Ill., but to allow the federal government to operate Thomson Correctional Center as a maximum-security federal prison.
- Senator Kirk led Illinois Republicans in the House in successfully inserting language in the FY11 National Defense Authorization Act to block the transfer of Gitmo detainees into the U.S.