Teleconference: Senator Sam Brownback On Closing Guantanamo Bay

Senator Sam Brownback put on a teleconference today about closing Guantanamo Bay. What follows are my notes, not quotes, from the teleconference.

Sam Brownback’s Opening Statement

About 3 weeks ago, I went to Gitmo. I have visited a number of prisons in the US and this was one of the nicer prison facilities I’ve been in. It’s a well-run professional facility. They are being given 6000 calories a day. They can practice their religious beliefs. They get excellent medical care.

It isn’t that we couldn’t detain these prisoners elsewhere. We don’t want people trying to make a statement by blowing up a bomb around these people. In Leavenworth, we could contain them there, but it’s near KC. There are school children nearby. I think the place becomes a prime target for people wanting to make a statement about the detention of the terrorists. In Guantanamo Bay, they have limited access.

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It will also cost hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild a facility like Gitmo in the US. So, it would be needless spending.

It would also slow down the military commission if we move them. It would slow down the administration of justice.

The argued reason why Obama wants to close Guantanamo Bay is because of its image around the world, but when you dig into it more, it’s that we are detaining these people at all. It’s not Gitmo per se; it’s that we have prisoners. If we move them to another location, the objection remains. It doesn’t solve anything by getting rid of Gitmo.

Q&A Session

When you remove those terrorists to a regular prison, because they can’t be in with the general population, could they end up in worse facilities?

Yes. They’d end up in solitary confinement, which would be far worse than the conditions in Gitmo.

Do you think the recent polling data on Gitmo has been how Americans have felt all along or do you think it has changed recently?

I think the President should look at what the American people think and he should try to represent their views on Gitmo instead of the views of other nations.

Are other nations serious about taking prisoners from Gitmo?

Europeans have made such an issue of Gitmo, but they’re unwilling to take detainees. It has been unfair. Europe has quieted down once we offered to let them take some of the prisoners. France took one. That leaves a whole bunch of others. These terrorists want to continue fighting and these other nations don’t want them in their country.

(Question from me) Congress has blocked the funding for closing Gitmo until Obama has a plan. Will that continue unless they come up with a plan for where they’re going to put these prisoners?

I think so and I don’t think Obama can do it in time. They can’t build another prison in time. People don’t want the terrorists in their state. Other nations don’t want them either. It doesn’t seem possible for them to get done in time.

There have been rescue plots for these terrorists. How dangerous would it be if these terrorists were moved to say, Leavenworth?

Very dangerous. There is a school right near the prison. Those kids become targets if those terrorists are moved there.

Have you seen Obama’s speech in Cairo?

I have not. I did host a conference on the two state solution, and after 16 years of intensive effort, billions in funding, lots of support — it just hasn’t worked. There hasn’t been a two state solution. If the Palestinians had a state, it would be a terrorist state. I think we need to get Egypt and Jordan into those regions. They could offer security to Israel and it can give Palestinians in the refugee camps a chance at economic growth.

Would the Obama administration and Netanyahu support that solution?

I think if they really wanted to talk about reality, yes. But, this is the only thing that provides a way forward to help the Palestinians and provide security for Israel.

Obama has bashed Israel a lot and said that he would be willing to allow Iran to have a peaceful nuclear program. What do you think?

Obama is the most liberal person to be elected President in at least a generation and that is being expressed in his foreign policy. Attacking Israel, which is our best ally in that part of the world, is misdirected. To suggest that Iran would be okay having nuclear power when they are the leading terrorist sponsor in the world, is the height of irresponsibility. It would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and a new Cold War between the Arab states.

Plus, look at North Korea. Has Obama lifted one finger to slow them down? Has he done anything to stop them? Can we at least reestablish North Korea as a terrorist state? They’re the leading weapons provider to terrorist regimes across the world. We’re getting what we always get from appeasement. The world is safer when America stands strong around the world and it gets more dangerous when we don’t.

Yesterday there was an article saying Al-Qaeda wants to attack America via Mexican tunnels. Thoughts?

Even if you change the name of the war on terror, it still goes on.

The Obama view on foreign policy appears to be, “We wish it would go away.” Do you agree with that assessment?

I think they care, but they’re very naive. They believe that the US is the problem and that we’ve talked too tough; so now they’re going to soften the rhetoric and blame America first. That’s a big mistake.

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