Guantanamo is known the world over as a place where people have been abused and tortured. Many of the egregious techniques that shocked the international community - stripping and hooding detainees, blaring music non-stop at ear-shattering levels, "stress positions," and waterboarding - have been used there.
It has been one year since President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order calling for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. 20 veterans just visited Capitol Hill, representing over 2000 veterans who have signed the letter telling Congress to follow through and support President Obama's call to close the detention center at Guantanamo as a matter of national security. But the right wing led by Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman continue to play the old game of politics and fear. It's time for us to stand up and finish what President Obama has started. Stand with our veterans to demand the closing of Guantanamo.
For too long the prison at Guantanamo Bay has remained a blight on the American conscience. Guantanamo is a recruiting tool for terrorists that undermines our troops and undermines our security. As a supporter of the veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I urge you to take immediate action to permanently close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
General Colin Powell has said that if it were up to him, he would close Guantanamo Bay not tomorrow, but this afternoon. General David Petraeus made clear in testimony before Congress that he believes that Guantanamo Bay should be closed. Many other military leaders, both active and retired, have expressed this view. They know what is at stake for our men and women in uniform.
I stand with them.
Every day that the facility at Guantanamo Bay remains open and detainees are held there without trial is another day that terror networks have an effective recruiting poster – that the United States applies the laws to some, but is hypocritical when it comes to others. Guantanamo has been used in videos by senior al Qaeda leadership at least 32 times since 2001 and four times this year alone. Guantanamo is harmful to our national security and to the men and women in uniform who we have put into harm's way.
There are many viable options to house and try detainees here on U.S. soil, including the possible purchase of the state prison in Thomson, Ill. I support these options as I know that our justice system is capable of handling those who are accused of harming us. More than 300 terrorists – foreign and domestic – are currently being held on U.S. soil. 195 terrorism suspects have been tried and convicted in a U.S. court of law. I believe in the justice system that our veterans have fought to protect. Those who would use fear-mongering and demagoguery to tarnish our system of justice run counter to everything our veterans fought for – the defense of our laws, our Constitution, and our way of life. Theirs is a position of weakness. Ours is a position of strength.
Closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay is in the national security interest of America and of the troops we send into harm's way. I urge you to do so without delay.
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