May 9th, 2009
12:47 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama putting ‘symbolism over security,’ Bond says

Sen. Kit Bond says President Obama is using a 'ready, fire, aim' strategy.
Sen. Kit Bond says President Obama is using a 'ready, fire, aim' strategy.

(CNN) - Missouri Sen. Kit Bond said President Obama’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a “dangerous case of putting symbolism over security.”

“Guantanamo Bay – known as GITMO – doesn’t house middle-of-the-road, white-collar criminals. Instead, this detainee facility houses deadly terrorists, including 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,” said Bond, a senior Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Republicans have been pounding Obama and the Democrats over the proposed closure, saying that closing the facility could push detainees into facilities in the United States, making the country less safe.

Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters the Justice Department was reviewing each of the detainees at Guantanamo to determine what to do with them.

In the weekly Republican radio address, Bond charged that Obama is implementing “a classic example of a ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ strategy.”

“When it comes to national security decisions, I prefer aiming before shooting, which is why I keep calling on President Obama to tell us, the American people, how his plan to close Guantanamo will make our nation safer ... I think the American people have a right to know exactly what the White House plans to do with these terrorists,” he said.

Earlier this week, House Democrats told the president he won't be getting money to close the military detention facility until he has a "concrete program" for shutting it down and moving its prisoners.

About 240 prisoners remain at the detention facility.

Attorney General Eric Holder promised a Senate committee on Thursday he will not release suspected terrorists into the United States.

“There are no easy solutions here. But, having no solution and moving forward with the closing [of] the prison at Guantanamo is a dangerous gamble with our security here at home and our troops abroad. I, for one, am not willing to gamble with our national security,” Bond said.

“Closing our terrorist-detention facility with no backup plan is one campaign promise that can’t hold up to national security realities. While the President has made closing Guantanamo Bay a priority, the highest priority must be keeping America safe.”

Full transcript:

“This is Missouri Senator Kit Bond.

“As the senior Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, I understand that protecting the American people is the government’s highest priority and most important responsibility.

“And keeping our nation safe should not be a political issue, it’s an American one.

“I hope my colleagues in Congress keep that in mind over the next couple of weeks as we debate the troop funding bill.

“Guantanamo Bay – known as GITMO – doesn’t house middle-of-the-road, white-collar criminals.

“Instead, this detainee facility houses deadly terrorists, including 9-11-mastermind Khalid Sheihk Mohammed.

“While President Obama has no plan for what to do with these killers, he has pledged to close the terrorist-detention facility in January to fulfill a campaign promise.

“This is a dangerous case of putting symbolism over security.

“Or as I like to say – this is a classic example of a ‘READY, FIRE, AIM’ strategy.

“When it comes to national security decisions, I prefer aiming before shooting, which is why I keep calling on President Obama to tell us, the American people, how his plan to close Guantanamo will make our nation safer.

“The President needs to honor his pledge of transparency and provide the American people with answers.

“I think the American people have a right to know exactly what the White House plans to do with these terrorists.

“Americans also have a right to know if President Obama plans to send any of these terrorists to their communities.

“Any plan must answer these questions: Where will these men go? And will that make America safer?

“Now just last week the administration admitted that some of the terrorists could be coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

“Defense Secretary Gates testified before Congress that as many as 100 Guantanamo detainees could be transferred to the United States.

“Whether these terrorists are coming to a prison in Kansas, or a halfway house in Missouri, or any other state – I can tell you this:

“Americans don’t want these terrorists in their neighborhoods.

“That’s why when we put it to a vote, the Senate voted 94 to 3 against importing detainees to American soil – even if that meant to a maximum security prison.

“Americans also don’t want to send these terrorists back to the battlefield to kill our troops.

“And, we know that terrorists detained at Guantanamo and released have gone back to the fight.

“The Pentagon has confirmed that at least 18 detainees who were released have gone back to the fight. And, 43 more are suspected of doing the same.

“There are no easy solutions here. But, having no solution and moving forward with the closing [of] the prison at Guantanamo is a dangerous gamble with our security here at home and our troops abroad.

“I, for one, am not willing to gamble with our national security.

“Closing our terrorist-detention facility with no backup plan is one campaign promise that can’t hold up to national security realities.

“While the President has made closing Guantanamo Bay a priority, the highest priority must be keeping America safe.

“Thank you for listening.”


Filed under: Kit Bond • President Obama
soundoff (274 Responses)
  1. Larry J

    Senator Bond: can you provide an instance where you criticized President Bush for his "aim" at Iraq? Or are you one of those (few) who believed Al Qaeda was found there under Hussein's regime?

    May 9, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Liberal Democrats are Pathetic

    I love how when liberals have no intelligent argument for closing the prison, they blame America first, and blame others for their problem. The fact is, Obama is finding it hard to close Gitmo for the same reason that Bush found it hard to close. The nations they came from don't want them back, and the majority of sane Americans, not the liberals on this ticker, don't want them in this country either. You dems can call names all you want, but all you really end up doing is looking like fools, and make America less safe. Let me guess... Now you are going to whine about this post, or call me names, because you can't think of a good argument.

    May 9, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. JonDie

    Guantanamo is exactly the reason why we need a special prosecutor to see if Bush and his high officials can be indicted and tried for crimes.

    This Stalinist-style torture center and its kangaroo courts that Bush created are a blight on our country's history, and the criminals, including Bush, who created it need to have their day in court.

    May 9, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. once upon a horse

    @ Had it......

    you hit the nail right on the head. I'd rather have my enemy locked up where I can keep an eye on him than away where he and his buddies could possibly plan another attack. We can lock up Mason. McViegh, Rudolph, many serial killers but I guess these terrorist have some strange ways of slipping thru our penal system.

    May 9, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. drnr

    GITMO detainees are not nuclear bombs that will explode as soon as they hit US soil. It is absurd to say that they will be "released" in US.
    GITMO is a symbol of hate and torture and should be closed. Like other serial killers and terrorists that have been tried and sentenced before, GITMO prisoners should be tried in courts and jailed.
    Do we only have white collored criminals in our jail? this guy hos lost his mind.

    May 9, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Daniel -- Mesquite Texas

    Ed you are seriously complaining that the Republicans spend too much money.The Democrats are the ones who waste gigantic sums of money.

    May 9, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Jenn, Philadelphia

    #1, middle of the road white collar criminals aren't trying to blow us up and kill us; #2, it isn't a question of our prisons not being able to hold these prisoners, it's what happens after some bleeding heart parole board lets them out early; and #3, maybe you folks posting here haven't noticed, but Democrat politicians are asking the same questions about what happens with the prisoners. I think the overreaction is yours.

    May 9, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    You're absolutely spot on John at 11:49am. The Republicans are taking their rhetoric right out of an XMen movie. We can't release Magneto or Juggernaut from their special holding cells at Gitmo and put them on main street USA! Do you really think these 'enemy combatants' would last 2 days in general pop at San Quentin or Pelican Bay?

    May 9, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. ANDROLOMA, Commerce City, Colorado

    How dangerous were the nazis after they were captured?

    How dangerous were the commies after they were captured?

    Or the huns, or the injuns, or the messicans, or the rebels, or the yankees, or the redcoats? Shall the US torture and/or hold indefinitely "foreign combatants"? This nation averages as many as six "grievous threats to national security" a century. Surely we can plan better than what we have done.

    Is no one smart enough to come up with a smart answer?

    May 9, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. Ed in Iowa

    It's simple math. And it's also beside the point. The math is, for every one person we lock up eithout due process, much less torture, a hundred more will become rasicalized. Some will be heir friends and family, others just people who were close to radical to begin with, who are inspired to become radical because of what they see and hear in the news, and gossip. The point, though, is even simpler: it's NOT just about making us "safer". The fact of the matter is that America stands for something... "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" is the way America should be. As Franklin said, "those who would sacrifice their freedom for their security deserve neither" and I think you can say the same for thier morality, too. Obama is closing Gitmo for all the right reasons, and you are opposing that for all the wrong reasons. He want's to protect us from the hundreds who radicalized becasue we dishonored our own morals, AND to regain the moral authority that continues to protect us, and for which America used to, and should again, stand. And you Republicans oppose it just to not have to admit you were wrong in the Bush years, and also so you can oppose Obama and the Democrats at every turn. You are, in essence, placing your party loyalty above your patriotism, and for that you should be ashamed.

    May 9, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Mit Jones

    Anyone who thinks were are going to win the war of terror militarily is a fool. The only way to win the war on terror is through the minds of those in the world where terrorists live. Guantanamo Bay and torturing people does more harm than the little information we may obtain. Besides, we it only puts us down to the level of the terrorists and we are better than that.

    May 9, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. GOP Disaster

    Hey Kit, the election is over the nation is tired of this fear mongering campaign.

    May 9, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  13. Bo Jo

    I am a republican who agrees with Obama. Close Gitmo put the terrorists in maximum security prisons with the general population here in the US then they would wish water boarding was all they had to worry about. I firmly believe that US prisoners would rank terrorists along with child molesters and would provide the same treatment. What you liberals know but don't care about is what the guards and wardens in US prisons allow to take place rape, torture and beatings treatment much worse than Gitmo.

    May 9, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  14. Flex

    Republicans, torture is illegal. Your leader, Dick Cheney, who is over, and out, will go to jail for his ,1 degree of separation, involvement in an international torture program. If we don't prosecute him, the world body will.

    Also, I'm delighted to see that you continue to attempt to scare us into your pseudo security blanket. It shows how clueless you are. We already decided we had a choice, six months ago, by voting for Obama. We chose for a new course for security, and rejected you fear mongering, "we will keep you safe by being bullies," approach.

    I never felt safe under your control. It was George Bush, who was on Vacation in Crawford, Texas, slinging Bush, while the terrorists were executing their greatest attack on our soil.

    We were attacked on 9/11/01 on the Republican watch. You failed to protect us!

    May 9, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. suzyku

    If the republicans say it, it most likely is WRONG! We have faith in our President and absolutely zero faith in the "pundits" who are NOT in a position to know anything or the republicans who only know how to say no to absolutely anything this President or the current administration or the Democrats say! Zero credibility for these people. President Obama will not do anything to harm this country and will do the right thing! republicans and pundits are becoming increasingly more irrelevant!

    May 9, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  16. TM

    No, Senator, symbolism over security is when the president plays "fighter pilot dress up". America suffered for eight years while republicans chose symbolism over security, and photo-os over actually doing their jobs. You had your chance, and you blew it. If you really want to help keep this country safe, then shut up and lend a hand, otherwise just shut up.

    May 9, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  17. kishen c.rao

    you guys do not know what you are now talking.....this is another guy...who do not talk any kind of sense.....security? when they shook hand with soudi arabia that sent 19 hijackers to our nation....where are you mr. james bond???we have plenty of prisons....they can keep and accomodate these guys......not necessarily guitmo prison...waste of money of tax payers....ok mr. james bond....007?

    May 9, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. Ann

    In the weekly Republican radio address, Bond charged that Obama is implementing “a classic example of a ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ strategy.”

    Actually, Mr. Bond, that was Bush's strategy and look where it got us? And do you know for a fact that all the detainees are "deadly terrorists"?

    May 9, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. white woman in Hawaii

    What a big suprise...a Republican is critizing Obama for undoing something horrible that Bush instituted. It is amazing that the republicans just don't get it...the American people love what Obama is doing on foreign policy. By critizing every move Obama makes, that just puts one more nail in the coffin of the Republican party. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of iditos. The Republicans are so out of touch, if they "stay the course" the party sould completely implode by the end of the month.

    May 9, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  20. p smith

    If the republicans don't like Obama's plan, what is theirs? You housed them all these years. What were you intending to do with them?
    If the likes of a person like Manson is still in a maximum prison, what is so special about Gitmo detainees that they can't be put in our system.

    May 9, 2009 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  21. Perusing-through

    THE GOP IS NOT ONLY THE PARTY OF "NO", BUT THEY ARE A PARTY AGAINST THE WILL OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Presidential-Candidate Obama promised the American people (among other things), that when they pull the lever for him on 4-NOV-2008, that he would close Gitmo. Now President Obama has kept his promise but the Republicans are against the majority of Americans that voted to close Gitmo. The Party of NO strikes against the American majority – – again.

    May 9, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  22. Ellen

    The US has yet to win a case against any of these so-called terrorists. The few who are really dangerous would be just as secure at a super-max prison. This is another red herring and I hope the President would not back down over his resolve to close this place that has become a symbol of the worst of the United States. As long as it remains open it is a rallying cry for terrorists all over the world.

    May 9, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  23. Paul

    It astonishes me that Republicans have so little faith in the US prison system. The federal and state supermax systems are just as secure and certainly better run than GITMO, and have the additional advantage of not concentrating terrorists all in one place.

    Also, the prisoners will be part of the US judicial system and not shunted off into a legal limbo. Weren't the Republicans the party of law and order once upon a time? The party of morality? Now it's all far-right dogma and '24' fetishes.

    May 9, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  24. Lorton, Va

    Another fear moger Repub with no credibility. He says the gitmo people are very scary, but why should we believe him? The Dick says that too, and we know he is a liar and a traitor. Het Kit – prove it! Do it the American way – put them on trial! We don't illegally hold people because "some one" says they are evil. Step up show some courage!

    May 9, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  25. Brad

    I am now officially sick of republicans. With people like this...

    They just don't get it.

    May 9, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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