Liberal Obsession With Closing Guantanamo Collides With Reality of Fighting Terrorists

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the war on terror:

“Last week, the U.S. military took another top terrorist leader off the battlefield. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi had been ISIS’s top militant since 2019 when American special operators introduced his predecessor to a similar fate.

“I’m proud of our special operations personnel who took on this dangerous operation. And President Biden deserves credit for making the tough call to send U.S. servicemembers into harm’s way.

“Until this terrorist chose to kill himself and take innocent civilians with him, their mission had been to capture him alive for interrogation.

“That’s an encouraging sign. If the past 20 years of counterterrorism have taught us anything, it’s that just taking out top leaders does little to uproot their networks. Al-Qurayshi could have been a source of valuable information for destroying ISIS.

“But this aspect of last week’s mission also raises a question for our Commander-in-Chief.

“If President Biden recognizes the value of detaining top terrorists, then why are his staff still caught-up in the longstanding liberal obsession with shutting down our detention center at Guantanamo Bay?

“The White House said last year that closing Gitmo was, ‘certainly our goal and our intention.’ But last week, U.S. forces undertook this mission that was designed to take this terrorist murder alive for detention and questioning.

“So how exactly was the Biden Administration planning to square their political quest to close Guantanamo with their stated intention to capture this terrorist alive? Where were they planning to house this killer, a Holiday Inn?

“Did they intend to turn al-Qurayshi over to a non-state, third-party partner like the Syrian Defense Forces? That would have created new risks of another major ISIS prison break. And would his jailers have obeyed the Geneva conventions? And what if the Syrian regime, itself a state sponsor of terror, retakes that part of Syria?

“Or was the Administration planning on bringing him before U.S. courts, under Article III of our Constitution? Did the FBI come along on the raid to read this foreign terrorist his Miranda rights? Was their plan to eventually give this foreign killer the same rights as U.S. citizens and risking the possibility of a jailbreak attack on our own American soil?

“Or perhaps the correct answer, Guantanamo Bay, was their plan all along. Maybe the Democrats’ virtue-signaling about closing this important facility has finally given way to reality.

“Guantanamo is a highly secure, humane and entirely legal place to detain terrorists. It would have been the safest place to interrogate al-Qurayshi, well within the bounds of the laws of war.

“Any Democrats who want to shutter it should look closely at the reality of the Syrian Defense Force’s makeshift prisons, like the major jailbreak by hard-core ISIS fighters that just happened in Hasakah. They should remember the massive ISIS prison break when the Taliban overrun Bagram in Afghanistan.

“So — if President Biden is pumping the brakes on his own plans to close Gitmo, he should say so. And I’ll be the first to applaud him.

“If he isn’t, he owes the country some answers about his intentions with last week’s raid and our national security going forward.

“September 11th taught us definitively that we cannot treat terrorism as merely a law enforcement challenge. I hope and pray it does not come to pass that this Administration is forced to re-learn that lesson the hard way.

“This war against terrorists will not end simply because we hope it ends. It will require sustained pressure to keep our enemies off-balance.”


Related Issues: Syria, Senate Democrats, War on Terror, Guantanamo Detention Facility