Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Risch returned from touring Guantanamo Bay Monday evening, capping a full day of meetings and tours of the detention facilities located at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on the island of Cuba."This tour was an opportunity to understand first-hand the enormous challenge facing military pesonnel and lawyers that work to keep America safe. I was able to tour the legal and detention facilities, as well as talk with a number of military personnel and lawyers about how the United States treats and handles detainees from the global war on terror," said Risch. "I can say without a doubt that a lot of what is said in the press about Guantanamo is inaccurate and overblown."
Since 2002, Guantanamo has held some of the most dangerous terrorists and combatants, and President Bush sought to try detainees through military tribunals. As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Congress drafted the Military Commissions Act, which was signed into law in October 2006 and provided the legal authority for the United States to try detainees.
Unfortunately, in January 2009 President Obama issued an executive order to close the detention center and transfer the detainees. In January, Congress prohibited the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States, and six months ago, President Obama reversed his position, issuing a new executive order to try detainees using the military commissions authorized by Congress.
"While some detainees were able to be released or transferred to other countries for detention, there remains a clear case for maintaining the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay," concluded Risch.
Traveling with Senator Risch on the military tour were Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO).