Kirk and Schock Introduce Legislation to Block Transfer of Gitmo Detainees to United States
Determined to plan for the orderly prosecution and incarceration of terrorist detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Peoria) unveiled legislation today that would block the expenditure of federal funds to move the suspected terrorists into the United States. The legislation also blocks the use of federal dollars for any future transfer of any new foreign detainees onto U.S. soil.
“After learning of Administration plans to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to Illinois, Congressman Schock, myself and the other members of the Illinois congressional delegation joined to protect Illinois from this action,” Senator Kirk said.
“Just last month after the Administration attempted to insert a last-minute provision into the Defense Authorization bill giving the Administration power to transfer terrorists to the heartland, we realized the fight to protect Illinois from hosting terrorists is not over.”
While Congressman Schock, Senator Kirk and other Illinois lawmakers successfully protected Illinois from the proposed transfer, Administration officials remain committed to bringing detainees into America.
“This isn’t the first time Senator Kirk and I have teamed up to ensure terrorist detainees are not transferred to Illinois or the United States,” Congressman Schock said. “The big issue for me is the total lack of transparency from the White House on their intentions regarding potential transfers of terrorists located in Guantanamo, or abroad, to the U.S. There seems to be a complete disregard for sharing this information with the American public or the safety of the communities they put at risk by housing these terrorists in our back yard.
“The United States has a multi-million dollar, state-of-the art facility, including court rooms, in Guantanamo Bay, and that should be where enemy combatants captured on the battlefield are held, tried and brought to justice.”
Senator Kirk and Congressman Schock said the Administration’s long-term goal raises the possibility that Thomson Prison in Illinois or another facility on the mainland could be viewed as a potential site to house the terrorist detainees. Plans for the State of Illinois to sell Thomson to the Federal Bureau of Prisons hit a snag last December when federal officials unexpectedly failed to submit a bid for the $219 million facility. But federal officials reportedly remain interested in buying the prison to house non-Gitmo U.S. federal prisoners.
Closing Guantanamo raises questions about whether the detainees ultimately would face trial for their alleged crimes in a civilian court or in front of a military tribunal. Congressman Schock and Senator Kirk both favor providing stability to the trial and detention of terrorists by holding military tribunals and incarceration at Gitmo.
“Since the federal government spent over $400 million to build courtrooms and a terrorist detention facility at the 45-square-mile Guantanamo Bay facility, we should use it and not waste money on a new facility during this time of fiscal austerity,” Senator Kirk said.
Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Congress passed the Authorization to Use Military Force, which granted the President the authority to “use all necessary and appropriate force against those…(who) planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks” against the United States. Subsequently, non-uniformed combatants captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere were transferred to Guantanamo.
While approximately 800 combatants were transferred to Guantanamo for prosecution, a substantial majority of detainees were re-transferred or released. Unfortunately, many of those released resumed jihad against the United States or her allies. Defense Department officials classified the remaining 174 detainees into three categories: 1) detainees in preventative detention to prevent them from rejoining enemy forces; 2) detainees expected to face criminal charges; and 3) detainees cleared for release.
Both Senator Kirk and Congressman Schock favor justice for the detainees through military tribunals.
“We should follow the legal precedents of Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt by bringing the detainees before military tribunals for final justice,” Senator Kirk said. “For the greatest mass murderer in U.S. history, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, I would hope the prosecution in his military tribunal would seek the death penalty.”
To read a copy of this legislation, click here.