May 20th, 2009
01:11 PM ET
12 years ago

Senate: don't release Gitmo detainees into U.S.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The Senate passed a bill today that would prevent detainees being held at the Guantanamo Bay military prison from being transferred into the United States."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - The U.S. Senate passed a measure Wednesday that would prevent detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from being transferred to the United States for now.

The measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in a 90-6 vote. A similar amendment has already passed the House. It was attached to a supplemental war funding bill.

Following in the steps of House Democrats, Senate Democrats rejected on Tuesday the administration's request for $80 million to close the Guantanamo facility. They instead asked that President Barack Obama first submit a plan spelling out what the administration will do with the prisoners when it closes the prison.

The moves by the Democratic-controlled Congress are considered a sharp rebuke to Obama, who is slated to give a speech Thursday on the future of Guantanamo Bay.

Obama, in one of his first official duties as president, announced that he would close the prison by January 22, 2010.

Congressional Democrats, however, are now attempting to avoid an onslaught of criticism from Republicans, who argue it would be reckless to shutter the prison before deciding where to transfer the detainees.

FBI Director Robert Mueller told members of Congress earlier Wednesday that he is concerned about the potential dangers that may result from the release of Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States.

In response to a question from Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Mueller said he was concerned about the potential for fundraising to support terrorist groups and the radicalization of others, as well as the potential for attacks within the country.

Mueller also said that while he is not concerned about dangerous terrorists escaping from maximum security federal prisons, he is concerned about the potential of activities being directed from within prison walls, and he cited such actions by dangerous gang members.

Attorney General Eric Holder promised a Senate committee on May 7 he will not release suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo into the United States.

He was less clear about what would be done with any detainees the administration decides are not terrorists.

"We would not bring them into this country and release them, anyone we would consider to be a terrorist," Holder told the panel. He said the safety of the American public will be his "paramount concern."

–CNN's Terry Frieden contributed to this report

Filed under: Guantanamo Bay • Senate
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Trae

    I find this amazing we has serial killers,child molestors,the original wtc bombers,murderers,mobsters,etc,etc... in maximum security prisons all over the country. And yet all this fuss about 241 terrorists and whether or not to bring them to the U.S.!! WOW I mean Charles Manson,Sirhan sirhan have been in prison for decades no escapes and we can"t handle 241 terrorists amazing a bunch of B.S. talk about nothing!!!

    May 20, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. Brian

    What is so scary about 200 prisoners, who may not all be terrorists, being moved into the U.S. in a maximum security federal prison. If they are let out they will be deported, not left to run around the country as they please. We have more murderers that have killed on our soil in less secure prisons closer to large population areas. Why do we let some people move the focus away from how bad Gitmo makes us look to the rest of the world and to our constitution? We are breaking a few of our treaties because of Gitmo, which makes us less safe.

    May 20, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. Nini

    Obama and the senate owe Bush AN APOLOGY.

    The hypocrisy that this administration is engaged in is undeniable and you should be blind not to see it.

    Bush administration made the best decision under the circumstances and they were demonized by Obama and the senate for over 6 years.

    But I am not holding my breath for Obama’s admission, he still hasn’t admitted he was wrong about the surge!

    May 20, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz,VA

    @ Fair is Fair

    FYI, Virginia has already said we'll take them. We already hold the D.C. snipers. Trust me, they don't want to come here.

    May 20, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Get on with the problems at hand.

    I guess I don't get it... Our prisons are the most secure in the world and house some of the most evil people on earth. Why aren't they secure enough for those men who are at GITMO??? Whats the deal here? Why is our senate so afraid of these men at GITMO? Are they super human or something?? Is there a lot of things our government isn't telling us and why can't these prisoners be brought to trial???

    May 20, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Doug, New Jersey

    They should all be released in the bluest areas of this country. Makes sense, since all liberal Democrats care more about the lives of these terrorists than their fellow Americans who hold a different political view than them.

    May 20, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Expat American

    Guantanamo is a yet another quagmire borne out of the utter failure of Bush's Republican administration. The Supreme Court unfortunate decision in 2001 and the 'values' of 2004 are going to be felt for a generation if not for many more after that. Thank god for John Wayne diplomacy.

    The world is a better place…

    May 20, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. Expat American

    Guantanamo is a yet another quagmire borne out of the utter failure of Bush's Republican administration. The Supreme Court's unfortunate decision in 2001 and the 'values' of 2004 are going to be felt for a generation if not for many more after that. Thank god for John Wayne diplomacy. The world is a better place…

    May 20, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    Here is a novel concept, send them back to their nation of birth and/or citizenship.

    May 20, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. MLH

    Closing Gitmo makes sense morally, logically and financially. Is the Senate saying that U.S. correctional facilities cannot be trusted to hold these people. Because if our prisons cannot hold suspected terrorists, how do I trust them to hold rapists, murderers, home grown terrorists, etc.?

    May 20, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. JB

    Welcome to reality, liberal Sheeple.
    Very funny to watch. You can't blame Evil Bush anymore

    May 20, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  12. Ben

    David – Typical Liberal response. They way to solve the world's problems is for us to slash defense spending. That thinking just puts us in more danger than we are already.

    May 20, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. Roger from CA


    What is the problem with putting them in our ultra-max security penitentiaries???

    May 20, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. Ben

    Expat American – If you don't like America then stay out.

    May 20, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. Darth Vadik, CA

    It's not up to the Senate or President. US constitution says you cant hold somebody without charging them and then giving them a fair trial. If that worked for McVeigh, why wouldn't it work for gitmo detainees. Charge them or let them go.

    How can we hold someone prisoner for years without charges? We are not a 3rd world dictatorship, like the ones Republicans wish for.

    May 20, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  16. Darth Vadik, CA


    No Bush is to blame for starting this, but we are Democrats and we will hold the Democrats responsible for this too, will you hold Republicans responsible for anything? Doubtfull.

    May 20, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
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