tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 19, 2013 3:00pm-5:01pm EST
authorization acts. in other words, the administration could not put any new detainees at guantanamo for interrogation because they could not send them to federal court for trial. if this administration had made any effort at all, even just once, over the past four years to interrogate detainees at guantanamo rather than holding them on a ship, this excuse would have much more merit. but to make sure there are no excuses any more, our amendment makes clear that detainees who are sent to guantanamo specifically for the purposes of interrogation after the date of enactment may still be transferred to the united states for trial in article 3 courts or before military tribunals. that means there's absolutely no need to hold another detainee on board a ship just to interrogate him, and there is absolutely no excuse for not putting new
detainees at guantanamo bay. this provision makes sense for the security of this country and it makes sense for good intelligence collection. the ban on transfers to yemen is a very critical aspect of this amendment. the amendment bans any detainee transfers to yemen until december 31, 2014. it's been four years since the president posed a moratorium on transfers to yemen from guantanamo following the failed airplane bombing attempt on christmas day 2009 by umar farouk. at that time yemen was viewed as a hot spot for terrorists especially with the rise of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. now four years later not much really has changed except for the rising recidivism rate. we know that former detainees
have rejoined aqap both as leaders as well as members. we know that former detainees have rejoined -- we know that yemen continues to struggle with terrorist groups who are trying to make sure it remains an aqap strong hold. and we know that aqap continues to look for ways like the 2009 failed christmas day bombing to attack this country. we have seen all the reports that the administration wants to transfer detainees to yemen and is working with the yemeni government to set up a detention or rehabilitation facility inside yemen to house these prisoners. we learned from the saudi rehabilitation program that rehabilitating hardened terrorists simply doesn't always work. the recidivism rate for the saudi program is at least 20%. many of these detainees, like aqap leader said al sahari ended
up in yemen fighting as terrorists again. yemen, as one senior administration official described it, is like the wild west. it's the last place we should send dangerous detainees. in other words, now is not the time to experiment with our national security. mr. president, our amendment ensures that no detainee can be sent to yemen over the next year. i recognize that there are yemeni detainees who have been cleared for transfer, so we do not permanently prohibit those transfers. but just because a detainee is eligible for transfer from guantanamo does not mean he no longer poses any threat at all. we have to remember that the easiest transfers have already been done. and even among those easy transfers, over a quarter of them have been known to be reengaged in the fight against americans.
so our amendment imposes a reasonable time period on this prohibition. no transfers can occur until at least december 31, 2014. over the next year we should have a better sense of how well the yemeni government is combatting terrorists within its borders. once we see their track record we can decide whether it makes sense to send them any new detainees. in the past, under the previous government of yemen, the detainees who were transferred from guantanamo to yemen simply were allowed to wander around in yemen with no supervision whatsoever, and i dare say that we now do not have any idea where most of those detainees are inside of yemen or, more significantly, whether they're still in yemen, whether they're reengaged in the fight, whether they're in syria fighting on one side or the other or what's gone on with those detainees. al qaeda and its affiliates look
up to guantanamo detainees. they have immediate street credibility among terrorists, which makes it more tempting for them to rejoin the fight. we should not make it easier to transfer detainees anywhere, much less places where there are confirmed recidivists or a real threat from aqap. the detainees including many of the yemenis who remain at guantanamo are among the worst offenders. we should want all future transfers to be done wisely and fully in line with our national security interests. this amendment accomplishes those objectives. thirdly, this amendment continues the ban on building or modifying facilities inside the united states to hold those detainees. it does not prohibit any changes to the facilities at guantanamo bay, so those facilities will continue to be state-of-the-art. i understand this administration wants to close guantanamo and
that the justice department has already purchased the correctional facility in thompson, illinois, to house them. but there is still overwhelming consensus here in congress and among the american people that guantanamo detainees should never set foot inside the united states. we need to listen to that consensus. so with that in mind, our amendment ensures that not one penny of american taxpayer dollars will be spent on the thompson facility or to build or modify any other facility inside the united states to house guantanamo detainees. our amendment applies not just to defense department funding but to all u.s. government funds. that way no other department, including the justice department, can try to circumvent the will of the american people and bring guantanamo detainees to our homeland. many of us have been to guantanamo. i've been there several times to
see for myself how the detainees live and are treated. it's a first-rate prison facility, and i have been to many prison facilities in my state as well as other parts of the country. it's one that will probably make most inmates at prisons here inside the united states very envious. we should not forget that many of the detainees at guantanamo are some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world. if they can't be transferred to other countries, they don't belong in the united states. this amendment also makes permanent the certification requirements that are needed before any detainee can be transferred outside of guantanamo bay. as i mentioned, the recidivism rate today is almost 29% and growing, so we should not make it easier to transfer detainees anywhere much less to places where there are recidivists or real terrorist threats. the certification requirements
and ban on transfer if there is a confirmed recidivist in a host country were designed to lessen the likelihood that detainees would reengage. i understand some people want guantanamo closed, but eliminated commonsense tph-rbs that tph-rbs -- measures that are there to protect american citizens is not the way to do it. these measures give congress and the american people confidence that the defense secretary has fully considered all aspects of the transfer, especially the host country's past record and current capabilities. as the rising recidivism rate tells us, even detainees who have been cleared for transfer through a very rigorous process, i might add, can still pose a threat. we have to remember that the easiest transfers have already been done, and even among those, over a quarter have reengaged. the detainees who remain are among the worst offenders.
we should want all future transfers to be done wisely and fully in line with our national security interests. i don't find persuasive the argument that these certification requirements are so burdensome that detainees can't be transferred. in fact, this year alone detainees have been transferred to algeria, and we continue to get notices of other proposed transfers. not every detainee needs to stay at guantanamo bay. i recognize that, as do the other authors of this amendment. but not one should be released until we are absolutely certain that everything is being done to prevent new terrorist activity on the part of those individuals who are in fact released. these certification requirements give us that certainty. making these requirements permanent is the only sure way to guarantee that each and every transfer is the best thing for
the national security of the united states. finally, this amendment restores the status quo by striking section 1032 in the bill which allows the transfer of detainees in the united states for medical care. we need to remember that guantanamo is a first-class facility, operated by dedicated military personnel who put up with an awful lot from detainees. i remember the first time i went to guantanamo. they were housed in a facility that is not the facility where they're in today. and there was much more of an open facility where the guards simply would walk back and forth at very close range to the actual prisoners themselves. those guards were subjected to being spit upon, having human waste thrown at them as well as food or anything the detainees could get their hands on. and needless to say, it was not
a very nice place to be. but we need to remember also that guantanamo possesses not only first-class medical facilities, but also first-class judicial facilities for the trial of these individuals. there is a state-of-the-art courtroom down there that is being virtually unused today that ought to be used to try these individuals before a military tribunal. section 1032 seems to be a solution in search of a problem. guantanamo bay has the facilities from a medical standpoint and the doctors within the military to treat these prisoners. and i'm not aware of any instance in which a detainee has died or suffered further injury because of our inability to treat them at guantanamo. aside from being unnecessary, this provision does not make good policy. over the past several years detainees at guantanamo have
waged repeated hunger strikes in an effort to gain sympathy so the united states will release them from prison. when inmates in our prisons here engage in such tactics, we don't reward them. but that's exactly what section 1032 would do. if we give detainees the ability to be brought to the united states even for what is supposed to be temporary treatment, that's a powerful incentive for a detainee to injure himself or go on a hunger strike. i'm also concerned about this -- about how this provision would even be implemented. it's unclear whether we will have to modify military hospitals so they can handle high-value terrorist detainees. at what cost and at what risk to the safety of others, including the towns in which these facilities are located? i appreciate that the provision tries to limit the rights of detainees when they are brought here, but we have been down this
road before with habeus corpus rights. once a detainee is physically inside the united states, it becomes much more difficult to argue against any change in immigration or legal status. in my view, section 1032 is simply in this bill to further reduce the population at guantanamo. this is not a goal that i can support. our amendment keeps the status quo. it keeps these terrorist detainees where they belong, at guantanamo bay. it's time for this administration to provide real leadership on detention and interrogation issues instead of trying to keep ill-conceived campaign promises that run contrary to the established facts and known threats to our national security. keeping this country safe demands realtime intelligence, the kind we have gotten in the past from interrogating detainees for long periods of time, including those detainees at guantanamo.
it is time for us to end this dangerous practice of treating terrorists first and foremost like criminals who deserve miranda warnings, attorneys and court appearances. it is time for us to stop pretending that the detainees at guantanamo are no different from common, ordinary criminals. our amendment ensures that the balance remains on the side of our national security and good intelligence collection. it ensures that common sense, not politics, will determine the future of guantanamo detainees and the effectiveness of our intelligence collection. mr. president, i'm pleased to now turn to the senator from new hampshire, senator ayotte, who has been such a champion on this issue. she and i have worked very closely on this as well as any number of other national security issues since she came to the senate, she's been a tremendous asset, being a former prosecutor.
she understands how serious these individuals are from a criminal standpoint. i commend her for the great work she's done, and i certainly look forward to hearing her comments now. ms. ayotte: thank you so much. i very much appreciated -- mr. president, i'm sorry. may i be recognized? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: thank you. mr. president, i first of all want to thank my colleague from georgia who is the ranking member republican on the senate intelligence committee. so senator chambliss has seen so much in terms of the real threats that we face from terrorists in this country, and i appreciate his leadership on ensuring that america remains safe, his leadership on this issue of ensuring that the guantanamo detainees are not released to get back in the fight against us, to attack not only our soldiers but us and our allies, and i guess i would
start with this, is the defense authorization right now, as it stands, and even the side-by-side offered by chairman levin, that is a dramatic change from current policy of where we are now with regard to guantanamo and the transfer of guantanamo detainees internationally into the united states of america. between last year's defense authorization and this year defense authorization. so what has changed? the only thing that has changed is the fact that the re-engagement rate of those who are suspected of having been released -- who have been released from guantanamo and are suspected or who actually have reengaged in the fight against us has increased, not decreased, and yet this -- the status quo of where we are right now, if our amendment that was just described by senator chambliss
is not adopted, amendment 2255, is that we would weaken what is required to be certified from people who are released from guantanamo. so, in other words, the defense authorization and the proposal offered by chairman levin would weaken the national security waivers that are currently in place, the standards which you have to meet before someone is transferred from guantanamo to another country, even though the re-engagement rate has actually increased. what else would it do? it would now allow the potential for transferring guantanamo detainees to the united states of america, and that would include guantanamo detainees potentially like khalid sheikh mohammed. he is the mastermind of september 11. a key player behind the attacks
on our country on september 11. and so we are going to allow the potential that he could be transferred to the united states of america. in addition to that, there is allowance for a potential transfer to the country of yemen, and as senator chambliss has talked about, the country of yemen is a place where the head -- where al qaeda is centered in the arabian peninsula, but not only that, in yemen there have actually been instances where we have seen prison breaks in yemen. in fact, it's a very destabilized place. in june, i asked the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff about yemen, and he assessed it to be the most dangerous al qaeda in the -- al qaeda in the eye rabinian peninsula is the most dangerous yemen affiliate. yet again, when we look at yemen, there have been breaks
from detention facilities there. as senator chambliss described, the 2009 christmas day bomber received his training in yemen. and we have guantanamo detainees who have actually been captured captured -- who we have let out previously, captured, killed or spotted in yemen. these included al qaeda and the arabian peninsula's former second in command shalid al-sahiri and one of al qaeda's main religious leaders. so we have instances where in yemen, there actually have been al qaeda terrorists, some who have joined the leadership -- back with the leadership of al qaeda after we have released them from guantanamo and they have gotten back in. and so i would ask why are we lifting the prohibition on transfer to yemen when there still is not a certification that can be made that they won't
re-engage and that yemen even can detain these individuals or account for them in the place where it is the head of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. let me just say that where we are right now is very important in terms of the protection of our country. as senator chambliss mentioned, the administration has been so caught up in not wanting to transfer anyone into guantanamo that we are left with a situation where we are potentially losing valuable intelligence to protect our country. and let me talk about that. if we captured tomorrow the current head of al qaeda, anwar zawahiri, what are we going to do with him? will we going to bring him to
the united states or to a secure detention facility at guantanamo? because the legal questions that are raised by this in terms of if we bring him to the united states, are we going to tell him you have the right to remain silent, even though he is the current head of al qaeda? shouldn't the first priority be to collect information to protect our country, to know what they're planning, to know what they're up to, to know what can happen next? but right now where we are is that we have the example that was given of warsami who was a terrorist that was captured overseas, and instead of being brought to guantanamo, he was put on a ship for approximately 60 days and then brought to the united states where he was told you have the right to remain silent. even worse, recently there was the capture of a man named al-libbi and al-libbi had been
involved in the beginning -- in fact, the director recently said before the homeland security committee he was a founder of al qaeda with osama bin laden. we captured him in libya, and rather than bring him to guantanamo bay, he was put on a ship for only a week, a week. then he was transferred to new york city and read his miranda rights. this is someone who is alleged to have committed the bombings against the embassies in africa in 1998, but someone who has decades' involvement in al qaeda and who was only interrogated on a ship for a week rather than being brought to guantanamo and fully interrogated to make sure that we maximize the gathering of intelligence to protect our country. and so now the administration wants to close guantanamo, and the alternative offered by chairman levin is that they
should come up with a plan of where we would put these detainees in the united states of america. well, i guess the question is how come we have had to wait this long, first of all, to even have some information of what the plan would be with what to do? but second of all, why would we want the most dangerous terrorists in the world, some of them, to come to the united states of america when we have a secure detention facility at guantanamo? why would we risk the legal questions that will be raised if we bring them to the united states of do we have to read them miranda? if we capture zawahiri and we have no guantanamo bay to bring him to, do we have to read him miranda because he's in the united states of america so we can't gather intelligence to protect our country? how much does it cost to make sure that the people are secure in the area where these terrorists are being brought? and by the way, we don't even know where they'll be brought
because the alternative amendment, all it says is that they have to come up with a plan of where -- where to put these terrorists rather than at guantanamo, and we don't know, we have no way of -- the amendment does not provide for us as a congress to approve this plan. it just says that the secretary of defense has to come up with a plan and then he may take actions to transfer the detainees and allowing them to be transferred to the united states of america. so stay tuned. if the guantanamo detainees are coming to your neighborhood, because we don't know, and that is why it's important that the prohibitions stay in place in the absence of any plan, but why should we bring them to the united states of america, given the dangerous nature of who they are and also why wouldn't we want to have a secure facility to ensure that we have a place to interrogate terrorists, to make sure that we can maximize
the information and understand what they know to prevent attacks against our country? otherwise, we'll continue to have a situation where terrorists like al-libbi are only interrogated for a week and then they are told you have the right to remain silent, and no terrorist should hear that right. let me just say that what this provision does is it puts back in place the requirements that the administration has to meet a strong national security waiver before they can transfer to third-party countries, and so what was taken out? let me just tell you what was taken out, which is important. the way they have weakened the waiver of transferring people of the requirement that the administration must meet before transferring from guantanamo to third-party countries is they have taken out language that requires the secretary of defense currently to certify that a country is not a state
sponsor of terrorism or a foreign terrorist organization. so now there's no longer a requirement that we even have to certify that, so we will now, if this -- if our amendment is not passed and the alternative is passed, if there is a country or an entity that's a state sponsor of terrorism or a foreign terrorist organization, then they can transfer there. they have also taken out the provision that would consider whether we have previously transferred a detainee to the country, and yet the detainee has gotten back into the fight, has reengaged. so, in other words, if we made a mistake in the past and transferred someone out of guantanamo to a country like yemen and they weren't able to secure the individual and that individual gets back in the fight, that was a consideration they had to take into account before they could transfer to that country. that is now being removed from the national security waiver, making it much weaker and easier
to transfer to countries that are not only potential sponsors of terrorism but are also countries where we have already had a terrorist of transferring detainees who have gotten back in the fight against us and our soldiers. and by the way, we have seen some of these detainees show up in places like afghanistan against our soldiers. we have seen these detainees attempt to attack us and our allies, and we cannot risk weakening the provisions to say we're going to transfer them and take our risks that they can do that again. we should keep the current law in place, and the administration has been able to meet the current law. they have transferred six detainees this year, so they do not have an excuse to say that we can't transfer anyone because they have already been able to transfer people. mr. president, i would like to be able to ask my colleague from georgia a question about these provisions. the presiding officer: without objection.
ms. ayotte: senator chambliss, if we eliminate guantanamo -- in other words, under this proposal, they would be permitted to transfer people to the united states of america or new captures be brought to the united states of america instead of to a facility like guantanamo, what are the risks we face in terms of losing valuable intelligence that we need to protect our country? mr. chambliss: well, you know, the very best tool that we have been able to utilize from an intelligence-gathering standpoint is the information that we gather from individuals who were involved in the crime or involved in the planning of the crime, and that's the case whether it's an ordinary burglary or a bank robbery or, in the case that we are talking about today, the planning and the scheming of the carrying out of what happened on september 11 as terrorist -- as well as terrorist activity prior to that, such as the u.s.s. cole
bombing and others, as well as terrorist activity against the united states subsequent to september 11, as well as detainees who are at guantanamo today who are captured on the battlefield in afghanistan. we have gone through each one of the detainees who were involved in specific incidents or who are battlefield -- battlefield-captured detainees, and we have been able to gather intelligence from them that simply we would not have been able to get from anyone else. now, a lot of times, what you have is when you interrogate detainees, you'll know the answer to the question that you're going to ask them, and sometimes it's information that was gleaned from detainee x who was with detainee y that you're now interrogating, and by virtue of the fact that you know information that you've already gleaned from detainee x, you can
ask terrorist y about it or detainee y, and you are going to get not only verification of what the first interrogated detainee tells you, but all of a sudden you're going to have an expanded story because this guy says well, he knows this, and that is the case, so i may as well go ahead and tell him the rest of this. that's kind of the way the interrogation process goes. and what's happened at guantanamo is that it's been there for a number of years now, september 11 is, unfortunately, 12 years behind us now, but we are still gathering information from detainees at guantanamo who have been there from the very first day it opened on acts of violence that have occurred, but more significantly, on the makeup of al qaeda, on who the members are, where they're
located, where their headquarters were versus where they think the headquarters might be. there's just such a valuable source of information to be gleaned from individuals one on one in the interrogation process that you simply can't get otherwise. let me refer a question back to the senator from new hampshire. you're a prosecutor. you were the attorney general of new hampshire and you prosecuted any number of criminal cases over the years as attorney general, some including very violent cases. you're familiar with the criminal process, obviously. you're familiar with individuals who have been convicted of crimes who in some instances were let out of jail when their time was up or whatever, and those individuals reengaged in criminal activity. much like what we are seeing at guantanamo today. you and i both talked about the
recidivism rate being very high. what is your opinion as a longtime prosecutor relative to these 164 individuals who remain at guantanamo bay today with regard to what you think is the possibility or the probability of their reengaging in the fight because of their long-term detention at guantanamo? ms. ayotte: i would say that we have to go from the evidence that we have before us where we have a 29% reengagement rate and let's face it, the easier stitions were made first in -- decisions were made first in terms of who should be released and now we have some very hard core individuals who are there and if we already have a 29% reengagement rate of them getting back in the fight against us as terrorists, then we face a grave risk of some of the most hardened individuals getting -- if we transfer them
or we lessen the standard for transfer which is really what this is doing, it's taking away the issues that i talked about, the consideration of countries that we've already transferred to but people have gotten back in, it's making it easier to transfer and weaker in terms of the national security requirements that have to be met. and i'm worried that they will get back in and then harm us in our interests because we already have a history of that. i wanted to ask you, senator chambliss, some have said the cost issue is the reason we should close guantanamo but to your knowledge has anyone done the cost estimate of all the considerations that would have to be taken into account in the united states and also the security interests of the people of this country of transferring these terrorists to the united states? and finally, i would also say the risk we face of losing intelligence if they have to be mirandaized and things like that, that's a huge cost in terms of protecting our country, is it not? mr. chambliss: it certainly is,
and i think you and i need to be very clear with our colleagues here as well as the american public, when it comes to cost of detaining terrorists who carried out the horrific attacks of september 11, i think the american people are well prepared to use their taxpayer dollars to house guys like khalid sheik mohammed who has committed to planning the september 11 attacks. and if we house him in a prison here inside the united states, he gets mirandaized, i'm sure the first thing he's going to do is to get a lawyer and you and i are both lawyers and we'd be foolish not to tell our client to hush up, don't talk anymore and that's exactly what he would do. so the cost of detaining individuals who ripped this country apart on september 11, 2001, is really not a
consideration in my mind from the standpoint of whether or not we should house those folks for the rest of their lives. ms. ayotte: and if we were to lose, for example, valuable intelligence from -- if we were to get zawahiri tomorrow or captured osama bin laden instead of killing him and were able to interrogate him, isn't that the -- the value cannot be placed on that terms of preventing future attacks and understanding how al qaeda is planning things to prevent future harm to americans. is that right? mr. chambliss: absolutely, no question about it. and if if you do bring him to the united states i guarantee you that's the last bit of interrogation of any of those individuals we'll ever see. you mentioned bin laden. i remember at a hearing in the senate armed services committee where the issue of bin laden came up during a presentation by one of the current administration secretary of defense. i asked the question with regard
to guantanamo bay, i said if you captured bin laden tomorrow, what would you do with him? and to his credit, secretary of defense looked me straight in the eye and said gee, senator, i guess we'd have to send him to guantanamo and he was right. there's nowhere in america that -- where bin laden would have been welcomed in the county jail or some federal institution. i don't think there's any question about that. and the 164 that are there today in my mind fit in that same category. some of these individuals have never said one word to an interrogator since they've been there. some of them and most of them, in fact, have been very open and we still gather intelligence from them. but if we transfer them to the united states, that's the last we'll hear from them. ms. ayotte: thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: i've been listening
to the discussion, i agree wholeheartedly with everything that's been said. the amendment that we're going to be voting on, is parts of three different amendments. i was one of them and the two of you. and one thing that hasn't been said is the part that i put in there on striking the provision that permits the transfer of detainees to the united states for emergency medical treatment. which is just another way of getting them there. this obsession the president has --. the presiding officer: the time has just expired. mr. inhofe: i ask unanimous consent for two more minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: and the other thing is that when you transfer someone here for incarceration purposes, isn't it true that these are not criminals, these are terrorists and what terrorists do for a living is train other people to be terrorists. and to commingle them in our prison system is something that would be a great danger to our country. so that's something, you agree, that's one of the major reasons we want to keep them
from the united states? ms. ayotte: i agree with ranking member inhofe. i thank him for his lich. absolutely, these are not common criminals and these are not people who have robbed a bank. these are people who have attacked our country and who seek to get other people to attack our country and that's for -- the the reason we wouldn't want to mingle them with criminals or bring them to the united states so they can be told they have the right to remain silent because we have to protect our country by knowing what they know. mr. inhofe: parliamentary inquiry. you say the time on our side has expired, and --. the presiding officer: that's correct. mr. inhofe: the chairman wants to use some time too. i ask unanimous consent that at the conclusion of his remarks if all the time has not been consumed that i be given a few minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: i understand the situation is as follows, that
the time between now and 4:00 is under majority control and then between 4:00 and 5:00 we not -- have not resolved that issue as to who would control time. am i correct? the presiding officer: that is correct, sir. mr. levin: i think there may be more time available between 4:00 and 5:00. mr. chambliss: would the chairman repeat that? mr. levin: under the existing u.c. the time between now and 4:00 is under the control of the majority because the minority has used the time and at 4:00 we have to enter into another u.c. or we can do it now deciding what the situation will be for the hour between 4:00 and the time of the vote. mr. chambliss: thank you. mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: mr. president, i support the provisions in this bill relating to the guantanamo detention facility or gitmo and oppose the amendment to strike those provisions and reinstate
existing restrictions on the transfer of gitmo detainees. gitmo is expense expensive, inefficient, damaging to the u.s. international standing, harmful to our allies' ability to cooperate with us and serves as a recruiting tool for extremists. it is not needed to secure people who should be detained and tried. there are other places for detention and trial in front of a military tribunal. we don't need gitmo to stay open at huge expense in order to do that. the bill before us makes long-overdue fixes to our ability to transfer detainees out of gitmo to provide our military with needed flexibility to determine how long we need to detain individuals now held at the guantanamo facility and where we should hold them. for a number of years now congress has enacted legislation anymore lating that flexibility and requiring that we continue to hold all gitmo detainees at
guantanamo whether or not it is in our national security interest to do so. the current law establishes an absolute ban on bringing any gitmo detainee to the united states for any purpose, including detention, trial, incarceration, or even medical treatment. and it replaces the best judgment of our military and intelligence experts on the risk posed by an additional gitmo detainee with a cumbersome check list of requirements that must be certified before any detainee may be transferred overseas. the current law makes it more difficult to try detainees for their crimes and nearly impossible to return them to their home countries. for example, even if we have a strong case that a detainee has committed crimes for which he could be indicted and convicted in federal court, the current law makes it impossible to try him there. this is true even in cases where similar charges are not available before a military commission making it impossible
to try the detainee at guantanamo. and it is true even in cases where the security risk in bringing the detainee to the united states would be nonexist entd. in -- nonexistent. in 2010 the detainee task force recommended 44 detainees for possible prosecution. as a result, in significant part of the legislative restrictions on transferring detainees to the united states for trial, however, we have had only four of the 44 plea bargains and no other successful prosecutions of those detainees. similarly, even if we have determined that a detainee poses no ongoing security threat to the united states, we cannot send them back to his home country unless the secretary of defense certifies to six conditions addressing issues such as countries' control over
their own territory and detention facilities and so forth. and even if the individual is likely to die without advanced medical treatment we cannot remove him from gitmo for the purpose of receiving such treatment. in 2010, the guantanamo detainee review task force conducted a rigorous interagency review and determined that more than half of the gitmo population, including 84 of the 164 detainees currently at gitmo, could be safely transferred overseas without posing a significant security threat. however, only two gitmo detainees have actually been transferred using the certification provision since it was enacted at the end of 2010. under the current law, even if a detainee has been convicted or pled guilty and served his sentence, even if he has
cooperated with us and provided us with useful intelligence, even if he has renounced all ties to al qaeda or the taliban, even if he has been determined to no longer pose a threat to our national security, it is still dream extremely difficult to transfer or release a gitmo detainee. that is why we still have detainees sitting at guantanamo who have been cleared for transfer or release on multiple occasions by two different administrations over a period of almost a decade. the current law has reinforced as a result the impression held by many around the world that guantanamo is a legal black hole where we hold detainees without recourse. this perception has been used by our enemies to recruit jihadists to attack us. it has made our friends less willing to cooperate with us in our efforts to fight terrorism around the world. and for this reason, many of our top national security leaders spanning the bush and
bush administrations have -- obama administrations have repeatedly told us the harm gitmo causes to our national security. this would change current law and provide needed flexibility to our military in two key ways. first, with respect to transfers of gitmo detainees overseas to their home countries or other countries, the bill would streamline the onerous certification provisions or procedures imposed by congress and restore the ability of our military leaders to exercise their best judgment in determining whether detainees could be transferred abroad consistent with our national security. this provision would enable the department of defense to handle gitmo detainees in the same way that it has handled other detainees in the course of the conflicts in iraq and afghanistan. by making case-by-case determinations whether it is in our national security interests to continue holding an
individual. second, with respect to transfers of gitmo detainees into the united states, the bill would reverse the one-size-fits-all ban that congress has imposed on such transfers and permit case-by-case determinations of whether it is in our national security interest to transfer gitmo detainees into custody inside the united states for detention and trial. this provision would restore our nation's ability to use a key tool in the fight against the terrorist threat. that tool is prosecution of gitmo detainees in federal courts. i've offered a side-by-side amendment with senator mccain which requires the administration to develop a comprehensive plan and submit it to congress before it could transfer any detainees to the united states under this provision. this plan would include a case-by-case determination where
each individual held at gantt ma, where the individual is -- guantanamo, where the individual is intending to be held, including the specific facility or facilities inside the united states that would be used and the estimated costs of any modification needed at those facilities. the side-by-side amendment would also clarify that gitmo detainees would not gain any additional legal rights as a result of their transfer to the united states. for detention and trial. in particular, detainees who are transferred to the united states would not gain any additional rights, would not be permitted to be released inside the united states, would not lose their status as unprivileged enemy belligerents eligible for detention and trial under the law of war, would not gain any right, any additional right, to challenge his or her detention beyond the right to habeas corpus, which they already have
at guantanamo, as the supreme court has decided. i would ask unanimous consent, mr. president, that senator feinstein be added as a cosponsor to our side-by-side amendment, the levin-mccain amendment. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: guantanamo continues to be a damaging reminder of a failed strategy that sought to put captured terrorists beyond the reach of the law and u.s. courts. a dozen years ago, the bush administration started sending detainees to gitmo in large part out of a desire to avoid the jurisdiction of the united states courts and ensure that detainees would have no legal avenue to appeal their convictions. now, whether or not one adopted -- whether or not one supported that approach, that argument ended in 2008 when the supreme court in the boumedine case ruled that gitmo detainees would be treated as being inside the united states for the
purpose of habeas corpus appea appeals. instead of recognizing the problems with maintaining the gitmo facility, the problems of extreme cost and that it adds no additional security to what exists if these people are brought to the united states for military trial, for -- as being held as prisoners under the laws of war, or for federal court trial. even though all of that is still possible inside the united states, we've enacted legislation which makes it virtually impossible to move detainees anywhere else, ensuring that the facility's going to remain open whether we need it or not. now, the result is that we're stuck with an expensive facility. and make no mistake, the costs of the guantanamo detention facility are exorbitant. the department of defense has put the cost associated with
gitmo at over $400 million a year. that's more than $2.5 million per detainee. if we had any additional security as a result, it would be worth it, but we don't need gitmo for additional security. detainees can be held in the united states, they can be held for trial, they can be held according to the rule of law, they can be held under the military -- as military detainees. now, $2.5 million per detainee. by some estimates, that is 35 times the annual cost of housing a prisoner at a super max security prison inside the united states. and that does not include the more than $200 million in additional military construction requests that the department believes it needs to spend to keep guantanamo running in the coming years.
and, you know, mr. president, again, i want to repeat this. if this added to our security, it would be worth it but it doesn't. if we can bring these same people to the united states to be held as prisoners of war the way we did italians and others during world war ii -- i had hundreds of them in my own home state -- if we added to our security by keeping guantanamo open instead of just having a place which is used as a training ground and used as an argument for jihad, we can keep these people in the united states safely, just as safely as guantanamo, and maximum security prisons or urn the military jurisdiction with the same amount of security for the people of the united states at far less cost. now, we -- we are all facing sequestration. it's undermining the readiness of our armed forces and requires risky reductions in force
structure, makes it likely we're going to have to cancel or severely curtail vital modernization programs. we cannot afford to spend a half a billion dollars a year on a program that doesn't make us more safe. the basis for the legislative obstacles to moving detainees out of guantanamo appears to be the fear that returning gitmo detainees to their home countries or transferring them to the united states would pose unacceptable threat to our national security. but history has shown that we bring numerous terrorists to the united states for trial, for incarceration. it's had no adverse effect is on our national security. these prosecutions have resulted in hundreds of convictions on terrorism-related charges without apparent adverse effect to our national security. the attorney general wrote the judiciary committee, wrote chairman leahy last week, that terrorist prosecutions in
federal courts have been -- quote -- "an essential element of our counterterrorism efforts." and a powerful tool of proven effectiveness. in the last three years, mr. president, we brought three foreign terrorists to the united states for trial. we brought abu gaith, osama bin laden's son-in-law. he's been convicted in a federal court, remains in federal custody without incident. the second is ahmed warasin who pled guilty in federal court, remains in federal custody without incident. the third is ahme ahmed ghailan, received a life sentence, remains in federal custody without incident. and again, there's been hundreds of convictions in this country of persons connected to terrorism in federal courts. and our military, mr. president, has routinely detained individuals on the battlefield,
in afghanistan, and then exercised their discretion to transfer them to local jurisdiction or to release them. we can trust our mill tear make these determinations on a day -- military to make these determinations on a day-to-day basis for detainees in afghanistan, we should trust our military to make the same determination for detainees at gitmo. the rigorous review process which is codified by our bill's provisions requires the secretary of defense to determine, prior to transferring a gitmo detainee, that the transfer is in our national security interest and that actions have been taken to mitigate any risk that the detainee could again engage in any activity that threatens united states persons or interests. a provision in this bill will get us past our fear that we cannot securely handle gitmo
detainees in this country. it would allow the secretary of defense to authorize gitmo transfers to the united states for detention and trial if doing so is in the united states security interest. this bill will restore the president's ability to choose the most effective tool, whether that's military commissions or federal courts, to bring these gitmo detainees to justice. and so i would urge, in conclusion, mr. president, that our colleagues support the guantanamo provisions in the bill, vote for the levin-mccain-feinstein side-by-side amendment and oppose the effort to reinstate the counterproductive and costly restrictions in current law. and i yield the floor.
mr. inhofe: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. inhofe: mr. president, it's my understanding that at 4:00, there might be a unanimous consent request that will lead us to a vote at 5:00; is that correct? the presiding officer: the chair really has no knowledge about the vote at 5:00. mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: i would yield the time between now and 4:00 to the senator from oklahoma. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. inhofe: all right. mr. president, it seems like we're going to have an opportunity a little later on to -- to discuss this. we'll have another -- more time tonight. and while the -- in the capacity of the -- of the ranking member of the armed services committee, i have to say that i can't imagine having a chairman that
with whom i cooperate on virtually -- and agree on almost every issue, like the chairman, chairman levin, and i really appreciate the work that we've done together. we both recognize that this is the most important piece of legislation each year. we both recognize that for 51 consecutive years we've had this legislation. nothing's come up too obstructed. we also realize that the republicans would prefer to have more opportunities to -- to have amendments, and i -- i -- i know that chairman levin has been very helpful in helping us to get that. i would say this, though, the area where i don't agree is in the area of the -- of gitmo and how it should be used. i sometimes -- every time i go to gitmo, i look at it, i shake my head and i think, why in the world why we not use this resource?
we don't have another resource like it. you heard the senator from -- from georgia make the statement that he -- that he asked the chairman, you know, if we don't have get notice send these people, where are we going to send them? and i think it was secretary of defense panetta said, well, we don't know. there is not enough place. we've used this successfully since 1904. and i often have said, and i said yesterday, that we don't have many good deals in government. this is one that is. since 1904, our rent on that territory down there has been $4 a year. now, can the chair come up with any better deal than we've had down there? no, i don't think anyone can. and besides that, castro doesn't collect it about half the time. so anyway, this is a good one. now, when you argue that you -- you -- you can use it for interrogation, if you stop and think about osama bin laden, the
information that we got that ended up to his demise was actually gotten from interrogation that took place no place else than gitmo. i would also is say that when you talk about the treatment of people there, the one thing that i am -- discover every time i go down there is that one of the chief problems that they have in gitmo is obesity because they're eating better than they've ever eaten at any other time in their life. the primary care provider is there for every 45 detainees. they've never had that kind of treatment any other times in their lives. the detainees received age appropriate colon and cancer screenings, annual dental procedures, physical therapy and all these things. and the idea that we would not be able to bring them to the united states for some more serious personal care, i can't buy that, because we have the
u.s. naval hospital at guantanamo bay. i've been there. they have 250 approximately personnel there that support the base's population of over 6,000. and so i would just say that when i look at this and i think of the options that they have and this obsession the president seems to have to bring these -- these terrorists into the united states. i have to share this one story because i know that there's going to be a request here in just a moment. but i can remember back 4 1/2 years ago when this president first went into office, he had -- and i'm going from memory now -- i think 17 places in the united states where he could put these terrorists. one happened to be in my state of oklahoma down at fort sill and i went down to look at the facility. and the major who was in charge of it. she told me that she had had several tours of duty in guantanamo. she said, go back and tell those people in washington that we don't need to be spreading these
terrorists out through the continental united states when we have that great facility. she said she had been there twice, and it' it's state-of-the-art. i have a great fear. that is, that once we get a different administration here that realizes the value of guantanamo, it would be too late to go back to get it again. that's why we've been holding on to it with white knuckles. the amendment that you're going to be voting to in just an hour or so -- whenever it is set in -- is going to be an amendment that will allow us to continue to use what i consider one of the most valuable assets that we have in our detention system. with that, i'd yield the floor. mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: mr. president, i'm going to make a unanimous consent proposal, which i understand has been cleared. i ask unanimous consent that the pending motion to recommit be withdrawn, that the pending
levin amendment 2123 be set aside for senator ayotte or designee to offer amendment number 2255 relative to guantanamo, that the amendment be subject to a relevant side-by-side amendment, which is number 2175 from senators levin, mccain, and fine stein, that no second-degree amendments be in order to either of these guantanamo amendments, that each of these amendments be subject to a 60-affirmative-vote threshold. that the time until 5:00 p.m. be equally divided between the two leaderreleaders or their designd then at 5:00 p.m., the senate vote on amendment 2255, that upon disposition of the ayotte amendment, the senate proceed to vote in relation to the levin-mccain-feinstein amendment number 2175 and there be two minutes equally divided in between the votes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection.
mr. inhofe: mr. president? go ahead and conclude. mr. levin: i was going to say, the time between niewndz 5:00 is -- the time between now and 5:00 is equally divided, as i understand, between the senator from oklahoma and myself. i yield the floor. mr. inhofe: i call up amendment number 2255 and ask the clerk to report by number. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from oklahoma, mr. inhofe, proposes an amendment numbered 2255. for ms. ayotte and others. mr. levin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: i call up amendment number 2175. the presiding officer: the clerk will report.
the clerk: the senator from michigan, mr. lea mr. levin: in, proposes amendment numbered -- the clerk: the senator from michigan, mr. levin, proposes amendment number 2175. mr. levin: we have a senator on the way here. and i note the absence of a quorum, unless someone else wishes to be recognized, and i would ask that the time on the quorum call be equally divided, unless someone else seeks to be recognized at this time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
somebody comes down to talk about the two amendments that will be voted on at 5:00, i would be happy to defer to them. but i think it's important we understand we're finally -- finally making some headway in getting into this defense authorization bill. it seems like every year for 51 years now we've been able to get it through while other bills become controversial, get to a point where they can't go any further. that doesn't happen with the defense authorization bill. it's one that has to be -- it has to take place. now, let me thank -- as the republican rank member of the armed services committee, let me just say that, as i've said before, that -- thank my friend and my colleague, the chairman, carl levin, for his leadership in marking up this bill. it's always been difficult. in most cases, we agree with each other. we happen to be looking at an amendment now where we disagree.
but often i've always considered the ndna bill as the most important bill in congress everyee. it contains authorizations that support our men and women serving in harm's way, all the way into afghanistan and around the world. it supports the training of our service members, the maintenance and modernization of their equipment. it authorizes research and development, that's r&d, efforts that will ensure we maintain technological superiority over our enemies and can defeat the threats of tomorrow. but, most importantly, it provides for the pay and the benefits of the brave men and women who have made their sacrifices and are putting their lives at risk for our benefit. however, it is important to note this year -- and this has not happened before in nigh memory -- that the bill provides all of these vitally important efforts, only as they reduce spending
levels -- only as the reduced spending levels would alowvment in an area increasingly we don't fined by partisan gridlock, this is one of the rare occasions when members of both parties can come together. this commitment was exemplified again this year by the overwhelming bipartisan support when we had the ghaim out of our committee -- we had the bill at that came out of our committee, bipartisan support. and we wanted of course to have that same bipartisan support on the floor here. hopefully we'll be able to get this done by the end of this week. consideration of this year's ndaa comes at a time in our national security when we face more volatile and dangerous times than we ever have in the history of this country. the chaos, the violence on the rise in the middle east, in north africa, al qaeda is growing and establishing new safe havens from which to plan and launch attacks against the united states.
we've rogue nations like iran and north korea. it is not like it was in the old days. i have a often said the good old days of the cold war, when we had an enemy, a understand that enemy -- and that enemy was predictable. we knew that enemy. we used to have this thing called mutual assured destruction. that meant things in those days. doesn't mean anything now because our potential enemies want to be destroyed. it is a different mentality that they have now than they used to. the and iran and north korea, with their developing of their nuclear capabilities and their delivery systems. our intelligence has told us that iran will have a weapon and a delivery system all the way back to 2007, said that they would have it by 20156789 that's a year and a half from right now, i tell the chaimplet they're going to have that capability. and the threats are much more serious to us now. when i say that this is the first time we've faced the crisis we're facing now, it is not just because the enemy is
out there. i'm talking about an enemy that will have the capability of sending a weapon over and delivering it to the united states, but at the same time over the last five years, the -- of this administration, the military has already endured a $4787 billion cut, that's $48 billion out of the defense budget. that is before sequestration. now we have sequestration. an outcome once thought to be so egregious -- i can remember just as recently as -- less than a year ago, we thought that we're not going to have this. after $487 billion being pulled out of the military, we can't also have sequestration, which would be another half trillion dollars that would come out in the next period of time. and that's -- so we didn't think it would havment but i happen. but it did happen. we're now into our seventh other eighth month of sequestration. in total, our men and women of
the military stand to endure over $1 trillion slashed from their budget. general odierno -- i talked to general odierno yesterday, chief of staff of the ample he recently said that his forces are at the dirnl geeing quoalt now, mr. president. "the lowest readiness levels i've seen within our army since i've been serving for the last 37 years and that only two brigades are ready for combat." that's our united states army. we've never had that confession made. a level of desperation where they're willing to come out tawngdz about it. we cannot sustain another half million dollars of cuts. "because of fiscal limitations and the situation we -- we're in, we don't have another strike
group trained and ready to respond and short notice in case of emergencies. we're tapped out." that's the c.n.o. of the navy. our top military leaders now warn of being unable to protect america's interest around the world. admiral winnifield, the number-two person in line, the vice-chairman -- vice chief of staff of the yoints chiefs of staff. he stated editorialier this year, "there could be" -- he's been there for nearly 040 years. "there could be nor the first time in my career instances where we may be asked to respond to a crisis and we'll have to say we cannot." general dempsey, the number-one guy, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. he's warned that continued national security cuts will, "severely limit our ability to implement our defense strategy. it will put the nation at greater risk of coercion.
it will break faith with men and women in uniform." and this is why i'm so troubled by the disastrous path we're on. we're crippling the very people who are vital to our security, the men and women in uniform. to be clear, our military was facing readiness shortfalls even before sequestration took effect. nearly 12 years ago, or 12 years u.s.s. -- sustained combat operation have worn our equipment and our forces down in order to meet the spending caps mandated by sequestration, the military services are being forced to starve the accounts necessary to repair and reset their forces. rather than rebuilding and the ability of our military to defend the country, we're digging ourselves deeper in a hole. the longer we allow military readiness and capability to decline, the more money and time it will take to rebuild. we already know this is the case
based on what happened in 2013. general welch, he's chief of staff of the air force, general welch said that because of the first round of sequestration cuts, he said -- and i'm quoting -- he said "we were forced to ground 33 squadrons." he's talking about fighter squadrons. "including 13 combat coded squadrons as in addition to seven squadrons were reduced to basic takeoff, landing training. it will now cost a minimum of 10% more flying hours to fully retrain the grounded squadrons." what we're saying -- what he's saying is that when it was mandated that he take down 33 squadrons, that happened about april. then in july, three months later, they said all right, you can start working your squadrons again. what he's saying here is it cost
more to retrain and to bring these people back up in their proficiencies than was saved during that three-month period of time. he said specifically it will now cost a minimum of 10% more flying hours to fully retain the grounded squadrons than it would have simply to keep them training all along. we've gotten that from several of the other top people. general amos, i talked to him yesterday. he's the marine corps. he said he has approximately $800 million in critical military construction funding that will be unable to execute under sequestration. that's assuming they go through sequestration. by the way, mr. president, i have not given up on stopping the military sequestration. that's damaging our ability to defend ourselves. but he said, general amos said that the military construction funding will be unable to execute under a sequestration
and will need to be deferred. further, it will cost over $6.5 billion to buy back orders of the v-22's, joint strike fighters, and the cobras. those are four systems, four platforms we would have to bring back, at the additional cost of $6.5 billion that we otherwise wouldn't have to spend if we had continued these on track. admiral greener on monday told me that under the current budget environment, he'll be forced to defer much-needed ship maintenance causing a 15% to 20% increase in total cost. in other words, the things that they're doing now to meet these line by line mandates of reductions are not saving money but costing money. under sequestration we'll lose one virginia class submarine, one latoral combat ship, one float forward staging base,
development of an ohio class replacement submarine program. they will be all delayed again leading to an increased price. not only is sequestration getting our military capabilities ends up costing american taxpayers more than it will save. we're falling victim to the misguided belief that as the wars of today wind down we can afford to gut investments in our nation's defenses. it's irresponsible and makes america less safe. i remember going through the same thing back in the 1990's when they, the chant at that time was the cold war is over; we no longer need that strong of a defense. we heard it from both sides and now we're going through the same thing. history reminds us we can't dictate when and where the next conflict is going to arise. instead if we allow the continued dismantling of our military we'll be less safe, less prepared to defend the country. if our military men and women are called upon, their ability
to accomplish the mission will be undermined and tragically more will he lose their lives unnecessarily. you know, we had the top military people in our armed services committee, and they -- i asked them at my request, they talked about how the loss of readiness, the risk, risk equals lives. you take on more risk, you lose more american lives. general amos, commandant of the marine corps, testified that if he's tasked to respond to a contingency in the current budget environment, he said -- and i'm quoting now -- "we'll have fewer forces arriving, less trained, arriving later to the fight. this will delay the build-up of combat power, allow the enemy more time to build its immenses and will likely prolong combat operations altogether. this is a formula for more american casualities." again that is general amos, commandant of the air force. such an outcome would be immoral
and dereliction of duty if we expect the men and women of the military to go into harm's way to protect america, we have an obligation to provide them with the training, the technology, the capabilities required to decisively overwhelm any adversary at any time to return safely to home. i can remember when they used to use a different term than they use today. today they call it major military operations. it used to be defending america on how many fronts. it is all two fronts since world war ii. now we're down where we would have a hard time doing it on one front. that's the problem we're facing right now. that's why this bill is so important. and this is why ending sequestration and protecting the readiness of our military men and women remains my top priority. however, something has got to be done now to mitigate the devastating impacts to readiness that we find long-term solutions. every day that goes by without action only increases the damage. this is why i do have an
amendment that would fade sequester in a way that would allow military leaders in a way to train and prepare our military women and men. what it is -- and i know we're joining forces between my good friend, the senator from alabama, and myself to have an amendment that's going to allow to have some degree of latitude, some flexibility so that while you're living under the same budget constraints that we are under today, they can make some decisions where it's not just an online reduction. i just finished talking about how much more that will end up costing us. so, i see i have someone else that's come to the floor to be heard. i just want to restress as i started this off, i want to repeat how much i appreciate the chairman of the committee, carl levin, and his cooperation with
our side in trying to get this and become a reality and get this bill passed, particularly, hopefully this week. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: mr. president, before i yield time to the senator from california, i would ask unanimous consent that alec johnson, a legislative fellow detailed to the committee on appropriations, be granted floor privileges for the duration of consideration of the bill. i ask unanimous consent that -- further ask unanimous consent that commander lacy, a u.s. naval officer serving as senator shaheen's legislative fellow be granted floor privileges during the duration of s. 1197 and from senator cardin -- i ask for senator cardin unanimous consent that floor privileges be granted to nathan summers, u.s. air force officer currently serving as a defense legislative fellow in senator cardin's office for the duration of senate
consideration of s. 1197. i think i left out the first name, by the way. it's commander tasia lacy who is senator shaheen's defense legislative fellow. so i ask unanimous consent. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. levin: i yield 15 minutes to the senior senator from california. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much, mr. president. mr. president, i rise to support the levin-mccain amendment and have added my name as a cosponsor. i'd also like to speak in support of provisions authored by chairman levin that are in this year's defense authorization act which provide more flexibility for the president and secretary of defense need in order to move detainees from guantanamo. i strongly support the levin-mccain-feinstein amendment. here's what it would do. it would clarify that guantanamo
detainees transferred to the united states for law of war detention do not have any additional rights or benefits such as the right to claim asylum. so it limits it. it would clarify that gitmo detainees transferred to the united states may not be released from law of war detention into the united states. and, thirdly, it would require a detailed plan to be submitted to congress on how to close guantanamo, including the specific facilities intended to be used to hold detainees inside the united states. i've heard senator mccain talk about this, request it, and i believe it is a very valid need. it has been 12 years since the attacks of 9/11 and the united states invasion of afghanistan. in the ensuing years, 779 people were brought to guantanamo
without charge, and for many of them simply for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. most of the 164 left have been held for more than ten years. those transferred to guantanamo from c.i.a. custody in black sites have been there now for more than seven years. and unfortunately, we still have not figured out a way to close guantanamo. president george w. bush called for it to be closed. so did former secretaries of state condoleezza rice and colin powell. as well as former secretaries of defense, bob gates and leon panetta, among others. in fact, here's what president bush wrote on pages 179 and 180 of his member wore "decision -- of his memoir decision points.
there are things i wished had come out differently. i'm frustrated the military tribunals moved so slowly. even after the military commissions act was passed, another lawsuit delayed the process again. by the time i left office, we held only two trials. the difficulty of conducting trials made it harder to meet a goal i had set in my second term. closing the prison at guantanamo in a responsible way. while i believe opening guantanamo after 9/11 was necessary, the detention facility had become a propaganda tool for our enemies and a distraction for our allies. i would like to go much further, and this is not the quote of the president. this is my language. while i would like to go much further and close the facility immediately, the provisions in this bill will ease the transfer
restrictions so the detainees can be held in other countries or tried, convicted and put in a proper maximum security facility in the united states. there are three categories of detainees left at guantanamo. first, 46 will continue to be held on preventive detention, meaning they're being held under international law until the end of hostilities whenever that may be. it could be years. it could be decades. second, 34 detainees have been slated for prosecution. and of those three detainees have already been convicted in a military commission and are still serving their time at guantanamo. but most of these 34 have not even been charged, and there is no indication when they will be. the final category is the largest. 84 of the 164 detainees
currently at guantanamo were cleared for transfer by a 2010 -- that's three years ago -- a 2010 interagency process carried out by our national security and intelligence agencies. but current law needlessly complicates efforts to transfer those 84 men. president bush transferred over 530 detainees from guantanamo during his time in office. and unfortunately, many went on to commit terrorist acts because there were no individual assessments done on each detainee. but these individual assessments have been carried out by the obama administration. despite his commitment to close guantanamo, president obama has been able to only transfer 67 detainees during his first term.
and only two recommended for transfer has been successfully sent home under the burdensome procedures now in place. more are on the way. but this is an unacceptable delay because the government cleared these detainees for transfers years ago. sections 1031, 1032 and 1033 of this bill will give the president more flexibility to transfer these detainees out of guantanamo. it's long overdue, and i thank the chairman who is sitting in front of me and the ranking member for these provisions. but even under these provisions, the secretary of defense would still have to certify that the transfer is in our nation's security interests and that appropriate steps have been taken to address the risk of recidivism. congress would have to continue
to be notified of such transfers. in march of this year, lieutenant general john f. kelly, the head of u.s. southern command, which has military responsibility for guantanamo, testified to congress about the massive hunger strikes that were going on at the time and said the detainees were devastated at the lack of transfers and the government's failure to execute plans to close it, as the president has promised. in june of this year, i traveled to guantanamo with secretary -- with senator mccain and the president's chief of staff to see this devastation for myself. on our trip, we saw the process that's used to retain the detainees as they are forced from their cells and brought in to be force fed. we did not see a detainee being force fed, but we saw the two --
the tube that is forced up their nose and down their throat into their stomach. it is coated with olive oil and lana cane, if -- and lanacaine, if necessary, and it is done daily. we saw the restraints at the legs, arms and the head where detainees are held, not too different from the image of a death row convict in an electric chair. i said at the time and i will say again today the military and civilian personnel at work on guantanamo are carrying out their duties with dedication, skill and honor. my opposition to continued detention at guantanamo is not an indictment against them. it is with a failed and bankrupt policy, including here in congress, and now is the time to change it. another thing that struck me is the enormous costs we are
sinking into this isolated facility each year. detention operations at guantanamo now total approximately $5 billion since the facility opened in january of 2002. according to the most recent estimates provided by the department of defense, the total cost for f.y. 2013 is estimated to be $454.1 million. which equals approximately $2.8 million per detainee. that works out to be more than 35 times the cost to hold a prisoner in the supermax facility in florence, colorado. this supermax facility currently houses a number of al qaeda terrorists, including zacarias
moussaoui, shoe bomber richard reid and the would-be christmas day bomber umar faruq. in this era of furloughs, how can we justify spending approximately $2.8 million per guantanamo detainee? now, even with near unanimous support across the current and past administration to close the structure down, some appear to question whether there still is a national security need to shutter the facility. i believe it is clear that guantanamo is still a symbol that motivates our enemies and draws more and more young muslims to fight against the united states, and this is just not my determination but also the findings of our intelligence community. last week, director of national intelligence james clapper wrote to the senate intelligence
committees noting his support for the closure of guantanamo in which he offered the following examples of how al qaeda and its affiliates continue to reference guantanamo in furtherance of their global jihadist goals. al qaeda leader iman zawahiri in an audio statement in july of this year cited the detention without trial of gitmo prisoners as one indication of american hypocrisy and indiscriminate persecution of innocent muslims. in an article about the boston marathon bombings, in the most recent edition of al qaeda -- well, al qaeda in the arabian peninsula's "inspire" magazine -- this is sort of a diabolical magazine that al qaeda puts out. this is the one published in
june. it highlighted the ongoing detention of prisoners at gitmo as one of the purported justifications of terrorist attacks like 9/11 and the boston marathon bombings. here's what the article said, and i quote -- "if we note down all that has been and is still being carried out by america against muslim nations, we will run out of pages. there are also secret prisons and black sites filed. we could not miss out guantanamo bay detention camp. the american nation should have a good grasp of all of these and other historic facts so that they can comprehend the background and the context of the boston marathon operation. detroit, september 11 and other operations which are barely a wave of anger and vengeance."
end quote. furthermore, guantanamo is referenced 20 times in the previous ten issues of "inspire" magazine. mr. president, i'd like to ask unanimous consent to enter into the record the letter from the d.n.i. dated november 12, 2013. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: i would also like to say that i just visited the 9/11 memorial this past saturday and was extraordinarily moved by that memorial. it's just an amazing place, and it really brings to your heart the gravity of what that situation was. we then went down in the museum and i saw the steel just exactly where the plane went through the steel super structure and the staircase where hundreds of our people fled with smoke following
down those stairs. we must prevent another 9/11, and i would like to note that there is a letter from certain members of the september 11 families for peaceful tomorrows that has been sent to us in favor of this bill and the detainee transfer provisions in the bill, and i'd like to put the letter from peaceful tomorrows into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. by the end of president obama's term in office, some detainees will have been held at guantanamo without charge or trial for 15 years. 15 years. we need to change this outcome, and we could do so with no threat to our nation's security. for one detainee, ibrahim edris,
his physical and mental problems at guantanamo have gone on for so long that the government decided to finally drop its opposition to his legal argument that he is far too sick to stay locked up. there are others at guantanamo who are desperate and in need of medical treatment. the presiding officer: the senator's time is expired. mrs. feinstein: may i just finish this paragraph and i will put the rest in the record? the presiding officer: without objection, the senator has two minutes. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much. that is why section 1032 of this defense bill will allow the department of defense to temporarily transfer guantanamo detainees to the united states for emergency or critical medical treatment. no one is talking about releasing these detainees into the united states. the section is about providing medical care to people in our
custody. i thank the chair, and i'd ask that the remainder of my remarks be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. feinstein: thank you very much, mr. president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. udall: mr. president, i rise today as my colleague from california just rose to show my support for a tough, adaptable and smart national security policy. mr. levin: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent that i yield to senator udall five minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: i thank the chairman of the armed services committee. as i said, i rise in support as the senator from california for a tough, adaptable and smart national security policy. what do i mean by that? in this case, i mean we ought to support provisions that provide the department of defense and the president with the
flexibility necessary to transfer certain detainees from the detention facility at guantanamo bay to face justice in other venues, and in that context, i'm proud to join chairman levin and senator mccain and senator feinstein in sponsoring this important bipartisan amendment. for a number of reasons, i strongly believe that its passage would strengthen our national security and is in the best interests of our country. and, mr. president, i'm joined in that assessment by the director of national intelligence, the secretary of defense and many other senior national security leaders, including at least 32 retired -- say rather 38 retired generals and admirals who have helped to prosecute the war against islamic extremists. mr. president, this amendment is not -- does not close guantanamo. it doesn't require the release of the detainees into the united states or force the transfer of suspected terrorists to foreign countries.
this amendment simply provides the administration with the flexibility to bring justice to get those detainees in the most effective and efficient means possible. the fact is that civilian courts have convicted over 400 suspected terrorists since 2001. the conviction rate for terror suspects in article 3 courts -- that is civilian courts -- is nearly 90%. mr. president, during the same period, a grand total of seven detainees at guantanamo have been convicted by military commissions, and of those seven, two convictions were overturned. now, there are circumstances in which military commissions are appropriate, and i would agree with some of my colleagues that there are detainees held at guantanamo that should face trial in a military commission, but the fact is that in many cases, the civilian court system is faster, it's more efficient and more effective at bringing
terrorists to justice than military commissions. so why would we handcuff ourselves and limit our options to bring accused terrorists to justice? mr. president, our enemy already knows that we're tough. we have pursued them all over the globe. we've eliminated their leaders. and we killed or captured many of their followers. but we can be tough and we can be smart at the same time, and handcuffing our military and justice departments in their efforts to bring our enemies to justice is simply shortsighted and counterproductive. doing so only impedes justice, erodes the image of the united states and serves as a recruiting tool for a new generation of terrorists. according to the defense department, we're spending about $450 million a year to keep gitmo open, and the department of defense is going to need hundreds of millions more for upgrades and repairs if the facility stays open. that situation is unsustainable,
especially in a time of sequestration and rising budget deficits, and without action by congress, those costs will continue to climb as detainees get older and sicker, and our moral standing will suffer the longer we hold people without trial. based on evidence, i have faith in our justice system that secure convictions in terrorist cases. we have a system of justice second to none and prisons that already hold some of the most dangerous criminals in the world. there is no question that these individuals have been convicted and sentenced, that they will be detained for the rest of their lives with no risk to our citizens. we've proven it time and time again, and as a member of the armed services and intelligence committees, i receive frequent briefings and reports on our counterterrorism efforts around the world, and i know this -- i know this amendment will let us continue to prove it again and again in the future.
and so, mr. president, the levin-mccain-feinstein-udall amendment benefits our national security and should be passed by the senate without delay. mr. president, thank you. i note the absence of a quorum, and i yield the floor. i yield the floor, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: how much time is left on our side? the presiding officer: four minutes and 15 seconds. mr. levin: i ask unanimous consent i be able to yield an additional five minutes above the four and a half minutes to senator durbin and that then i understand that if that means that there is less time than allotted to the minority, i would ask unanimous consent that that additional time be used at 5:00 and that the vote would then occur a few minutes after 5:00 if necessary. the presiding officer: without objection. is there objection? mr. inhofe: i don't object specifically we have a request
by the prime author of this bill that will be under consideration at 5:00 to have five minutes, so i assume that's the thrust of your u.c. request is to give her five minutes even if it happens to fall starting at 5:00. mr. levin: if the senator from new hampshire available at five minutes to 5:00? if that's true, i ask unanimous consent i be allowed to modify that previous u.c. to provide ten minutes for the senator from illinois and the last five minutes to the senator from new hampshire. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: let me thank my colleague and friend from the state of oklahoma for yielding time, the senator from michigan, for manufacturing this close here so that both sides will be heard as we come to this important vote. 11 years now, for 11 years i've been coming to the senate floor
giving speeches about closing guantanamo. this is my 66th speech calling for the closure of guantanamo. this year i hold a hearing in the senate judiciary subcommittee on constitution, civil rights and human rights and i brought in military experts and i asked them do we need guantanamo? and here's what they said. in fact, here's what we heard from retired major general paul eaton who served for 30 years in the general and was the commanding general of the coalition military assistance training team in iraq. he said guantanamo is a terrorist creating institution and is a direct facilitator in filling out the ranks of al qaeda and other terror organizations that would attack the u.s. or our interests. guantanamo, general eaton said, in military terms is a recruitment tool of the first order. then i went down to the southern command in miami, florida and i
met with the generals there who have the responsibility of running guantanamo. and when i asked them about guantanamo, there was a sadness that came over the conversation. and they talked about how difficult it was with about 160 or 165 detainees remaining down there, how difficult and how expensive it was for them to maintain that facility. they accepted it, it was part of their responsibility, being in our military, but they basically said to me when is congress going to accept its responsibility? the levin-mccain amendment before us accepts our responsibility. let's get down to the bottom line here. whether you think these terrorists should be in guantanamo or not in guantanamo, let's talk about something very basic and very simple. how much does it cost for us to keep in prison one person in guantanamo for one year?
$2.7 million. $2.7 million per prisoner per year. how much does it cost the federal taxpayers to take the most dangerous, bloodthirsty, deadly individual that we convict in our criminal courts and put them in the florence supermax facility in colorado where no prisoner has ever escaped? $70,000 a year. what are we trying to prove here? are we trying to prove in guantanamo how much money we can spend? let me add, waste, on a facility that is totally unnecessary. i asked the director of the u.s. bureau of prisons a very basic question. if we sent the most dangerous terrorist in guantanamo to florence, who what is the likelihood they would escape?
he said zero, they don't escape from our supermax facilities. we're not keeping america safe by wasting $450 million a year in guantanamo. and we know that roughly half of those who are being held at guantanamo should be released. they're not going to be tried for a crime at this point. they should be released and what the levin-mccain amendment does is set up an orderly, thoughtful, sensible way for the transfer of these prisoners. why do we keep this guantanamo open? what is the point here? it's as if some lobbyist has us in thrall that we have to keep guantanamo open. it isn't about national security anymore, it isn't about the cost of incarceration anymore, it's about something else that i can't even define. so what we need to do is to take those remaining in guantanamo who can be charged, charge them, try them, incarcerate them.
and those who are going to be a danger to the united states should never see the light of day. but why would we continue to waste $2.7 million per year per prisoner to keep guantanamo open? throughout its history guantanamo has had a checkered past. it's part of cuba. we send the cuban government each year a rental check for the guantanamo facility. they never cash it. they may tear them up. they do maintain the minefield between guantanamo and the rest of the island of cuba to make sure that there's no travel between the two, not that anyone would try. that's it. and we maintain this facility because in the earliest days of our fight against terrorism after 9/11, there were legal counsels in the white house like john yu who said that guantanamo bay is the legal equivalent of outer space.
we can put people there, they'll have no rights and no one will ever know how wrong he was. guantanamo has become such a sad symbol that it's time for it to be closed. and it's time for us to do it in a thoughtful, sensible, honorable way as every great nation should. to maintain guantanamo for some bragging right that i can't even describe on the floor is simply unacceptable. i'm going to be opposing the amendment that's offered by the senator from new hampshire and supporting the levin-mccain bipartisan amendment which i think deals with this issue in a thoughtful and reasonable way. do you want to keep america safe? take those prisoners, those convicted terrorists, put them in a supermax facility. if you say to yourself don't want put known terrorists and convicted terrorists in our federal prison system, how wrong you are. they are all over our federal prison system. in marion, illinois, we have
convicted terrorists who are incarcerated in marion. drive down to southern illinois and no one even knows it because they'll never see the light of day. never. so in terms of safety in america, we know how to keep america safe. we also know when we're wasting money and at this point in time we are wasting money with this guantanamo facility. let's transfer those for detention and trial into the appropriate places, have them tried successfully, i think we've had perhaps six or seven tried by military commissions. only six or seven. since 9/11. and two of those were reversed. most of them go into our court system, even when they read the miranda rights it doesn't stop the convictions. the convictions come through regularly because our people know how to convict those who would threaten the united states and make it dangerous. so, mr. president, i'm asking consent that my entire statement be made part of the record.
i think senator levin and -- thank senator levin and and senator mccain for bringing this issue before us. we can't afford to ignore it. as general eaton said we can't afford to keep this recruiting tool for al qaeda and tell american taxpayers they need to pay $2.7 million a year for every prisoner in guantanamo. transfer them to a supermax prison for $70,000, america will be just as safe and we'll have money in the bank to use to fight terrorism and more -- in more effective ways. i urge my colleagues to support the levin-mccain amendment and oppose the ayotte amendment. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. ayotte: thank you, mr. president. i rise in support of amendment 2255 and let me just say what we can't afford. what we can't afford is to read terrorists their miranda rights and them them they have the right to remain silent.
why can't we afford that? because if we lose the opportunity to gather valuable information and protect our nation, then we can't prevent future attacks against the country. here's the problem that we face. here is the current head of al qaeda, ahmed zawahiri. i ask my colleagues, do you want to send him to a detention facility where he can be interrogated under laws of the war and held under law war authority or do you want to send him to a prison in the united states where we can't know the legal questions are many, where there's a real risk that he will not be able to held in law war detention and be told you have the right to remain silent and we will lose opportunities to gather intelligence to protect our country. my colleague from illinois talked about the worst criminals
that we put in prison. i was a former murder prosecutor and i put some of the worst murderers in prison and there's a difference here. we're not dealing with criminals. we're dealing with terrorists. and the priority has to be to gather information and protect our country. and if we catch zawahiri tomorrow, bring him to a prison near you, give him a lawyer, tell him have you a right to remain silent, those legal questions are not dealt with if we adopt the alternative amendment, that allows the administration to transfer people like sheik mohammed the mastermind of 9/11 to the united states. what do we do with future captures? how can we gather information? by the way, that is priceless. if we can stop a terrorist attack by interrogating someone, the price we can save for america, we can't put a number on that.
and if you believe with a rising reentry rate of 29% which is higher than last year in terms of people we've had at guantanamo, we've let go but have gotten back this the fight against us that we should weaken the standards that this administration has to meet to transfer people from guantanamo to third-party countries, then that is essentially what is done in the defense authorization. my amendment will restore existing law to ensure that there are strong national security waivers the administration must meet before they transfer prisoners to countries where they're getting back in the fight against us, where they're getting out and getting back in including against our troops. so this is a fundamental question, we cannot afford right now with what is happening around the world to close the one secure detention facility we have, that is clear we can conduct law of war detention there. we remain in a fight against
tris terrorists. we can't treat them like common criminals and that is what at stake here. if you believe this man should come in a prison near you, that's not what i've heard from my constituents or the american people and that's why my amendment will prohibit transfer of the mastermind of 9/11 to u.s. soil and keep him in guantanamo, a top rate detention facility that keeps terrorists as opposed to common criminals, secure. and finally, i would say that as we look at the prohibition on yemen, my amendment that is also cosponsored by the ranking member of the intelligence committee and many other members in this chamber, would prevent transfers to the country of yemen. without my amendment, the administration could transfer to yemen. what does that mean? yemen is the head where the al qaeda in the asian peninsula is centered. we've had terrorists who have been released from guantanamo and gotten back into al qaeda leadership and been found in
yemen. and there have been prison breaks in yemen, and yet if my amendment is not adopted to keep the transfer prohibition to yemen in place, the administration can transfer from guantanamo to countries like yemen. and the security waivers are weakened. the world is not a safer place from last year to this year, unfortunately. the reengagement rate of guantanamo prisoners has increased from last year to this year. so why are we weakening the national security provisions? let's keep existing law in place. why do we want to send khalid sheik mohammed to the united states the united states when we have a secure facility at guantanamo and why take any risk that would if we are blessed enough to have our men and women in uniform who do a fantastic job capture zawahiri tomorrow to risk that he may be told you have the right to remain silent because there are legal
ambiguities when he is brought to this country as opposed to law of war detention in guantanamo. that is what is at stake and we cannot afford to think that we are fighting -- no longer fighting a war against terrorists. we cannot afford to treat people like him like common criminals. as much as i believe in our criminal justice system, it was not created to gather intelligence, which is what we need to do to make sure that america remains safe. so i ask my colleagues to support amendment 2255 that is cosponsored also by senator chambliss, the ranking republican on the intelligence committee, senator inhofe, the ranking republican on the armed services committee, as well as senator fischer, rubio, and barrasso. thank you. the presiding officer: time has expired. ms. ayotte: thank you, mr. president. mr. levin: i have a unanimous consent request. i would ask unanimous consent that letters from secretary hagel, secretary