Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Olson Statement on Guantanamo Detainee Announcement

December 15, 2009
Press Release

Washington, DC – Rep. Pete Olson today issued the following statement in light of the President’s announcement of his intention to bring Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) terrorists to the Thomson Correctional Center, located outside Chicago, IL:
 
“I strongly disagree with the President’s decision to bring hardened terrorists to U.S. soil.  When I visited GTMO earlier this year, I saw firsthand not only the hard work being performed by our brave men and women in uniform, but also the technical legal rights and procedures afforded to the detainees under military law.  Transferring these detainees to our country raises more questions than answers and creates more problems than it solves. 

“The question must be asked: what makes a military commission proceeding in rural Illinois a better option than the one they will receive at GTMO?  The administration has yet to answer this question just as they have failed to explain how closing GTMO makes America safer.

“The detention center at GTMO was designed to provide the appropriate balance in protecting Americans and prosecuting some of the world’s most vicious terrorists.  This latest decision will be yet another bill the taxpayers will be forced to pay, in addition to potentially giving constitutional protections to those most committed to eradicating the democracy our constitution provides.” 

Additional facts about the President’s GTMO decision:

• The facility is the Thomson Correctional Center, 150 miles Northwest of Chicago
• No exact number of detainees to be transferred, only described as “dozens”
• The facility is currently run by the state of Illinois, housing roughly 200 minimum security inmates, with 1600 beds
• Estimates are that it will take roughly 6 months for the facility to be upgraded to a security level they are labeling as “beyond supermax”
• The administration plans to use the site for prolonged detention of the detainees and the site for future military commission trials (e.g. they do not plan to try them in civilian court, like KSM)
• Before prisoners can be moved, Congress must vote to allow detainees to be housed on U.S. soil for reasons other than a trial. 
    o So…if Congress rejects the move, do they all get civilian trials??

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Contact: Melissa Kelly
202-225-5951