By Brandon Moseley
Alabama political Reporter
During a hearing on the U.S. Department of Justice’s fiscal year 2014 budget request, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama complained that language preventing the Obama administration from transferring terror suspects from their military prison at Guantanamo Bay to facilities in the United States had been removed and stated his opposition to moving the terror suspects to the United States.
Senator Shelby said, “The budget also proposes to remove language that prohibits the transfer of GITMO detainees to US soil. This provision received broad bipartisan support last year and I am troubled by the Administration’s recommendation that it be removed. The proposal is particularly disconcerting in light of the President’s renewed declaration on May 23rd to close GITMO.”
Sen. Shelby continued, “Aside from his broad declarations regarding the closure of GITMO, the President has made no specific proposal for dealing with the current detainees. The President has not even attempted to remove those detainees his own administration has determined can be returned to their home country. “The budget proposal however, leads me to believe that the President is planning to move GITMO detainees here, to the United States. Why else would the budget delete the transfer language? “Either this is a real proposal or it is political posturing. In my view, political posturing is unnecessary and frankly, detrimental to any real discussion about terrorist detainees.”
Sen. Shelby stated, “I am adamantly opposed to moving any terrorist detainees to the United States and I believe many of my colleagues agree with me. Such a move would unnecessarily place Americans in harm’s way. These are dangerous individuals and they need to be isolated. GITMO provides that isolation.”
Sen. Shelby also addressed the controversies surrounding the Justice Department and the Attorney General. Sen. Shelby said, “These issues have overwhelmed the Department and cast a shadow of doubt upon the Attorney General.” “The controversy that has embroiled the Department has called into question its ability to fairly administer the law and justice. Further, the questionable actions of this Attorney General have tarnished the integrity, impartiality and efficacy of the position.” Shelby said, “Until these issues are resolved and the controversy laid to rest, a hue of distrust will hover over the Department of Justice.”
The Department of Justice has come under criticism for revelations that it targeted Fox News reporter James Rosen for investigation as part of an effort to identify media sources. On Thursday the DOJ denied that Attorney General Holder (D) had committed perjury when he previously had testified before Congress and denied knowledge of any such investigation. Days after testifying before Congress, DOJ revealed that Holder had personally signed off on the search warrant of Rosen. The DOJ said on Thursday that there was no prosecution of Rosen, but instead they were investigating Rosen to identify his source in the State Department. Former State Department security adviser, Stephen Kim has been charged with leaking classified information to Rosen. Kim has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
The United States began housing terror suspects at the U.S. Military base at Guantanamo Bay after 9/11. The U.S. has collected more terror suspects on the fields of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan. The suspects are foreign nationals, many of whom are either not wanted by their own country or would face potential punishment from their government if sent there. The U.S. holds them outside of the continental United States so that they can be interrogated and be kept out of the U.S. criminal justice system. Some Senators fear that moving them to a federal prison, like Talladega would potentially invite more attacks from terrorists. In 2008, candidate Obama promised that he would close the GITMO facility and move those terror suspects to the United States. That position has been opposed by most of the Congress.
Senator Richard Shelby was elected to the United States Senate in 1986 and his current term expires in 2016.