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. Jerry

    To Pam in Oregon
    You apparently have no fear of the detainees in GITMO. How about we send them to your town and you can be responsible for them? Get them a job and a place to live happily ever after.

    May 9, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. james

    And the Republican strategy???...Fire, Fire, Fire!!! And in the process the have exponentially increased the terrorist population, as well as the enemies of the U.S. Don't they get it? Kit Bond is a disgrace, as are the rest of his caucus. I say keep Gitmo open, and ship Kit and his fellow Republicans down there. I'll provide the water boards...

    May 9, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. Dave

    Come on repugs.... we only put them there so we could torture them. If we originally brought them here, they would have "rights". We certainly can't have that!! That is why they sought out GITMO. None of those bothersome rights to get in the way.
    The security of our prisons would put GITMO to shame. Since our "other" criminals are not escaping and running wild, I assume this is normal repub "fear mongering"!!!

    May 9, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. Eva, VA

    Great Idea - House GITMO terrorists in the same jail cells as "middle-of-the-road, white-collar criminals"

    May 9, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. BILL, WI

    Three choices: One..Continue the Military Commision Tribunals in accordance with GC III, Art 5.;

    Two.. Keep the detainees at either Gitmo in Cuba or Gitmo 2 in New Hampshire or;

    Three.. Set them free

    May 9, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. put this war criminal (Bond) in gitmo NOW

    that will make us the people safer!

    May 9, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. nick

    Sen. Kit Bond, is another old white haired southern Republican, as well as being senile. When was the last time a , a legally convicted criminal, escaped from one of our many maximum security prisons.
    Retire old man, you are not doing the people of Missouri, or the rest of us any good with your messages of hate, fear, bigority, and racism.

    May 9, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. barking republican ankle biters

    Im for putting them in your backyard Kit,you moron.

    May 9, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. Eva, VA

    Great Suggestion - House GITMO terrorists in the same jail cells as "middle-of-the-road, white-collar criminals".

    May 9, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  10. Peter E

    Exactly by what right did we keep any detainees, evil mastermind or lesser henchmen, on somebody else's territory for so long anyway? They are our prisoners, we are responsible for them. And if anything, they'd be kept much more secure in prisons here than anywhere else. This whole panic about bringing them to US soil making things less safe is nothing but scaremongering and political posturing.

    May 9, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Republicans should really get a life and stop accusing President Obama of everything under the sun! Their precious George Bush was always putting symbolism over everything else and they knew it! He had the country so scared for eight years over things that might happen but didn't!

    May 9, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  12. Simmy

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

    The President is accused of using 'symbolism over security'.....
    Republicans have been good at masterminding fear through words for years......Consider FP Bush's 'Axis of Evil.' Their strategies are straight from Hitler's playbook.....('Hilter's Rise to Power') Repeat, invoke fear, tell lies to reassure the people that their way is the only way, repeat, bombard with key phrases and sound bites, until the people cave.....Whether they know it or not, their actions are more harmful than any of their accusations against President Obama. Their words invite more negative words, thereby perpetuating the notion that there can be no common ground between the two parties. What will it take to make them become more focused on the good of their country again?

    May 9, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. Bill

    Many of those who have been held at Guantanamo were not terrorists at all but were arrested on false pretenses. Some of those who remain are genuine threats and Republican Defense Secretary Gates has said that each case will be carefully reviewed and handled appropriately. Senator Bond obviously is taking lessons from Master Demagogues Limbaugh and Gingrich. I am a Republican who admires Bob Gates and voted for President Obama...and despises Limbaugh, Gingrich, and others for what they have done to my party.

    May 9, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  14. Mike in Texas

    Isn't the shoe bomber in the Super Max Prison in Colorado? I am sure alot of these Gitmo Detainees aren't as bad as him and he is in a U.S. Prison.

    Ready, Fire, Aim....isn't that that Republican's fight song?

    May 9, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  15. IMHO

    I don't think CNN will post this ... let me be clear before I start: I am not trying to stir up anti-Japanese/anti-German sentiment when I say the following (I am only echoing the feelings of the Greatest Generation and those who knew/know them):

    Regarding torture, just ask Americans who were alive during World War II how they feel about what the Japanese did to our prisoners of war.

    For that matter, ask how they feel about US prisoners of war held and Berga an der Elster, who were tortured and used as slave labor, because they were "suspected of being Jewish."

    Do we really want to join the ranks of those nations who disregard the Geneva Conventions and have committed atrocities in the name of national security? Especially given that torture has been proven time and again that it does not generate reliable information?

    Do we really want to be that kind of country?

    May 9, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. RepubliKLANs Are Plain STUPID

    the only way the republiKLANs can legitimise the illegitimate GITMO is to continue to keep these terrorist in Cuba!

    if they are United States enemy combatants captured by US soldiers, so why can't the United States keep them in a special facility in the US...why make it another country's problem?

    Close GITMO and send the terrorists back to their home countries for trial if the US can't keep them in their homeland!!!!

    May 9, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  17. Had It

    I beg to differ with the "headline – ready, fire, aim". That was McCain's mantra during the campaign.

    Our very intelligent, thoughful president considers all angles before moving ahead on these matters.

    I've already switched from watching CNN to watching other news sources - maybe all intelligent people should do the same. Tired of the divisive e-gossip.

    May 9, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  18. jsilver2th

    Boy the Republicans are a bunch of whimps- They must have a very low opinion of out prisons to think these people would be able to escape at will- what an insult to our police agencies and law enforcemnent community- they handle people as tough as these everyday in a professional manner.

    I guess Bond thinks the prisons in Missouri are worthless. Put them in the tank at one of our fed prisons in Southern California and the boys in the yard will have them confessing in hours.

    May 9, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  19. Texas Teacher

    I suppose they would like to continue waterboarding... these all knowing saints!

    Can it be possible that we can house Charles Manson in a maximum security prison and we cannot house some of these criminals from Gitmo? Can it be possible that they could be held there instead of in a place where we do not know who is the seriously dangerous and who is not? More likely these human beings have been treated so horribly that they are now ALL a danger to the Nation? I suspect it is the latter. As well, wouldn't this tirad be such a cuo if there is more terrorist activity. I can just hear the "I told you so."

    I'm sick of these whinning negative Republicans who are no longer relevant! Almost 80% of the people cannot be wrong! And I am so tired of CNN acting like these 21% of lunatics DO matter! I don't recall the Democrats during Bush/Cheney administration being so relevant to CNN or any other news media for that matter!

    May 9, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. sandee in Portland

    Fear, fear, fear! Is that all these guys know in order to try to win elections? If our maximum security prisons are too weak to handle the terrorists, then they are too weak to handle the worst criminals that are currently in them (so why do we have maximum security prisons?)

    Since most terrorists are either uneducated, unemployed or very young, why not try to rehabilitate them. You'll lose some but you'll also win some over. If someone tortured me, I would definitely want to pay them pay in one form or another. Torture doesn't cure a problem, it creates one.

    May 9, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. Peter E

    Here's where the hypocrisy of the warmongers comes to light. They say that all detainees (mastermind, henchmen, or those who still haven't been charged with anything alike) are dangerous and should be kept in prison, securely. But they mean on somebody else's territory. If it comes to serving the country and keeping villains in high security federal prisons in their state, oh, then it should be somebody else's problem. When Obama KEEPS these prisoners in prison, just transfers them to another holding facvility, they call it 'making the country less safe.' When hundreds of these prisoners were released by the Bush administration these same protesters didn't say a single word! THAT was keeping the country safe? Hypocrites!

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

    Another delusional Republican spouting off. No real suggestions, just a rant against a president who is improving our standing in the world, and hence making America safer. The entire world hated our policy of hidden prisons and torture for the hypocrisy and blatant disregard for the rule of law that was shown by the previous Republican administration. I live somewhat near the Big Max prision, and there are people in there that would keep any terriorsts in line. Bond is just one more big mouth with no thought behind his news grabbing statements. No wonder the GOP is a party with problems!

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

    When was the last time someone broke out of a state of the art maximum security prison?

    May 9, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  24. ER Doc

    Are you people for real? There is truly no way that all the comments here can be from legitimate thinking people. Any story about a Republican making any comments on this website are immediately turned into a thoughtless Bush bash with no substance. THINK PEOPLE! If you have any love for this country and those who will die today fighting for it then OPEN YOUR MIND! We did not start this war. We are not the bad guys. We are hated by our enemies and loved by everyone else. That is exactly the way it should be. The day we make everyone happy will be our last day as a leader and superpower. DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE! If the rest of the world hated us, then why would immigration be such a problem? I don't see a line to leave the USA. You can thank your conservative Christian forefathers for that!

    May 9, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  25. JimS.

    Keep it up, GOP, pile it deeper and deeper. Democrats don't need to run against you, you're doing a great job all on your own. Still following Nancy Reagan's mantra? "Just say no!".

    Bond, Cheeny, Limbaugh, Palin, Gingrich....the hits just keep on comin'.

    May 9, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
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