Prohibiting the Transfer of Any Detainee At United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 15, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FORBES. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 863, I call up the bill (H.R. 5351) to prohibit the transfer of any individual detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and ask for its immediate consideration in the House.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.


Mr. FORBES. 5351.

Mr. Speaker, today, I rise in support of H.R. 5351 offered by Mrs. Walorski of Indiana.

H.R. 5351 would temporarily suspend the transfer of detainees held at the detention facility at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. Under this bill, the suspension would last until either the National Defense Authorization Act for the next fiscal year becomes law or until the new President takes office on January 21, 2017.

Mr. Speaker, the circumstances of the last several months have brought the need for such legislation to light.

In 2009, a special panel convened by the Obama administration evaluated every detainee then at GTMO. The Obama administration made it clear at the time that it was lawful for some detainees to be held, without charges, pursuant to the laws of war. Such detainees, the Obama administration believed, included those who had a ``significant organizational role with al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces.'' Other detainees, the Obama administration believed, should continue to be lawfully held in 2009 included those who had ``advanced training or experience,'' a ``history of associations with extremist activity,'' or had ``expressed recidivist intent.''

In other cases, the Obama administration has recommended that certain detainees be prosecuted and some sent to other countries. But even for those GTMO detainees to be sent elsewhere, the Obama administration noted that the United States had the legal authority to hold these detainees, and the detainees could still be threatening.

The Obama administration argued then and since that a few selected detainees could be transferred to other countries from GTMO only if ``feasible'' and ``appropriate'' security measures could be instituted to mitigate the dangers posed by these very threatening individuals.

Mr. Speaker, this is precisely why this legislation is needed.

Since January, the Obama administration has sent 46 detainees from GTMO to other countries. In August alone, 15 detainees were transferred. I worry that whatever arrangements might exist in the receiving countries will be woefully insufficient to keep the danger at bay. I am concerned that these detainees will again threaten the United States or our partners, just as other detainees have done. I fear detainees are being hurriedly moved from GTMO in order to fulfill an 8- year-old campaign promise to close GTMO.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a sensible and sound response.

Today, there are 61 detainees in GTMO. The Obama administration has made it clear that at least 20 of these detainees should be sent elsewhere.

H.R. 5351 prevents any GTMO detainee transfers for the next several months. The bill prohibits GTMO transfers to the United States or to other countries until the National Defense Authorization Act for this fiscal year takes effect or until the new administration assumes office, whichever happens first. This means the new President will be able to consider anew the grave risks which GTMO transfers pose. It will also mean that the new administration will know how the provisions of a bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act will govern its actions.

The United States military notes that it is ``committed to ensuring detainees are kept in a safe, secure, humane environment'' at GTMO. It also reports that ``intelligence gained at GTMO has prevented terrorist attacks and saved lives.'' A pause in GTMO transfers prevents rash and sudden actions to empty GTMO on an arbitrary and self-imposed deadline.

Mr. Speaker, that is why I strongly support H.R. 5351, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.


Mr. FORBES. Stefanik), my friend and colleague.

Mr. FORBES. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time.


Mr. FORBES. Mr. Speaker, could I inquire as to how much time I have remaining?

Mr. Speaker, let me, first of all, say I have enormous respect for the ranking member, and he has done an admirable job today, as he always does, of defending the President and the President's actions in Guantanamo Bay.

Unfortunately, the President's actions in Guantanamo Bay have not been quite as admirable. We have heard throughout the discussion today several catchphrases. We have heard that we wanted to discuss what was actually true. We wanted to discuss what the facts actually were. We talked about this incredible vetting process this administration had. We talked about the need to have a process and to have that process work before they took action. We have heard the phrase, We don't want to turn the American justice system on its ears. And we have also heard that, We don't want to hold up the process for a few months because that could be problematic.

Mr. Speaker, let me try to take us back a little bit and put some facts around this whole debate as to why we got here in the first place. The reality of this situation is that this administration, before they ever took office, before the President ever raised his hand and took the oath, before any cabinet members were appointed, or before anybody had been placed in his administration, this President and this Vice President made a commitment to close Guantanamo Bay before they ever went down there and actually investigated and looked at what was there.

The other situation is that when they made that promise, they had made no vetting process. They had no process in place.

The other fact, Mr. Speaker, is that when this President raised that hand and took that oath, the former administration that my good friend, the ranking member, has talked about how terrible they were, they had a prosecutor and a team of prosecutors who were prosecuting some of the worst terrorists this country had ever seen. Most Americans don't know the names of the people in Guantanamo Bay, but they know we had co- conspirators in 9/11 who were sitting down there, and that former administration had a prosecutorial team who had gone through months after months after months with a stack of motions this high, and that prosecutor said to anyone who would go down there, including me and the former chairman of the committee, Ike Skelton, that he would have had guilty verdicts or guilty pleas by those co- conspirators within 6 months.

When this administration came in with their great vetting and their great process without talking to that prosecutor, without looking at that at all, he disbanded that entire prosecution, terminated that prosecutor, terminated that entire team. And, to this day, no one on that side of the aisle can even tell us when they are going to have convictions on those conspirators of the worst terrorists this country has ever seen.

When I hear the President and the Vice President stand up and say, We haven't given up on the promise to close Guantanamo Bay, I listen and I listen and I listen to deafness for the President or the Vice President to say, We haven't given up on getting convictions of the worst terrorists in the United States.

So when I look at Guantanamo Bay and I hear, We are not really going to close it, forget what the President is saying, forget what the Vice President is saying, they don't really mean they want to close Guantanamo Bay. All they want to do is bring those terrorists to the United States.

We have stood on this floor and fought that for 8 years, and here is the reason. Because let me ask which of you want those terrorists brought to your community with every single act of terrorism we are seeing now and the repercussions of that? Because the moment you put them in your community in any jail or any prison, it is not a matter of whether we can hold them there, but you have just put a target on every school, every business, every mall in that community. When you talk about justice and you talk about fairness, we just believe that is wrong.

So when you talk about just giving a little more time to the President for a few months, doesn't it make a little bit of sense that if this administration was given the time to come in and stop the prosecution of the worst terrorists the United States has ever seen, that maybe, just maybe we ought to have a temporary hold and let the next President, whoever that President might be, have a few months to determine before we release these terrorists whether or not they want to prosecute them and they really want to bring them to a conviction instead of just talking about it for 8 years?

Let me close, Mr. Speaker, with this. Years ago, when I stood on this floor on one of the first motions we had, it was a motion to recommit for the defense authorization bill to stop this administration from bringing these detainees to the United States. My friend and chairman on the other side of the aisle, Ike Skelton, stood on the floor right where my good friend, Mr. Smith, is sitting today, and Mr. Skelton said this: When it comes to terrorism, there shouldn't be any light between the Republicans and the Democrats. And he supported that motion not to bring those terrorists to the United States.

So, Mr. Speaker, today, after all of the rhetoric, it is a pretty simple deal, prosecute them if you want to prosecute them, but don't fulfill some campaign promise of shutting down Guantanamo Bay and the impact that could have on these terrorists.

And I would say, as my good friend, Ike Skelton, said today, there shouldn't be any light between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to terrorists, but there certainly shouldn't be any light in with any Member of this Congress when it comes to defending and protecting the United States from these terrorists who have one goal in mind, and that is to kill Americans.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all Members to support this bill.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. FORBES. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

The yeas and nays were ordered.

The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 244, nays 174, not voting 13, as follows: [Roll No. 520] YEAS--244 Abraham Aderholt Aguilar Allen Amodei Ashford Babin Barletta Barr Barton Benishek Bera Bilirakis Bishop (MI) Bishop (UT) Black Blackburn Blum Bost Boustany Brady (TX) Brat Bridenstine Brooks (AL) Brooks (IN) Buchanan Buck Bucshon Burgess Byrne Calvert Carter (GA) Carter (TX) Chabot Chaffetz Clawson (FL) Coffman Cole Collins (GA) Collins (NY) Comstock Conaway Cook Costello (PA) Cramer Crawford Crenshaw Cuellar Culberson Curbelo (FL) Davidson Davis, Rodney Denham Dent DeSantis Diaz-Balart Dold Donovan Duffy Duncan (SC) Emmer (MN) Farenthold Fitzpatrick Fleischmann Fleming Flores Forbes Fortenberry Foxx Franks (AZ) Frelinghuysen Garrett Gibbs Gibson Gohmert Goodlatte Gosar Gowdy Graham Granger Graves (GA) Graves (LA) Graves (MO) Griffith Grothman Guinta Guthrie Hanna Harper Harris Hartzler Heck (NV) Hensarling Herrera Beutler Hice, Jody B. Hill Holding Hudson Huelskamp Huizenga (MI) Hultgren Hunter Hurd (TX) Hurt (VA) Issa Jenkins (KS) Jenkins (WV) Johnson (OH) Jolly Jordan Joyce Katko Kelly (MS) Kelly (PA) King (IA) King (NY) Kinzinger (IL) Kirkpatrick Kline Knight LaHood LaMalfa Lamborn Lance Latta Lipinski LoBiondo Long Loudermilk Love Lucas Luetkemeyer Lummis MacArthur Maloney, Sean Marchant Marino McCarthy McCaul McClintock McHenry McKinley McMorris Rodgers McSally Meadows Meehan Messer Mica Miller (FL) Miller (MI) Moolenaar Mooney (WV) Mullin Mulvaney Murphy (PA) Neugebauer Newhouse Noem Nugent Nunes Olson Palmer Paulsen Pearce Perry Pittenger Poe (TX) Poliquin Pompeo Posey Price, Tom Ratcliffe Reed Reichert Renacci Ribble Rice (SC) Rigell Roby Roe (TN) Rogers (AL) Rogers (KY) Rohrabacher Rokita Rooney (FL) Ros-Lehtinen Roskam Ross Rothfus Rouzer Royce Ruppersberger Russell Salmon Sanford Scalise Schweikert Scott, Austin Scott, David Sensenbrenner Sessions Shimkus Shuster Simpson Sinema Smith (MO) Smith (NE) Smith (NJ) Smith (TX) Stefanik Stewart Stivers Stutzman Thompson (PA) Thornberry Tiberi Tipton Trott Turner Upton Valadao Vela Wagner Walberg Walden Walker Walorski Walters, Mimi Weber (TX) Webster (FL) Wenstrup Westerman Westmoreland Williams Wilson (SC) Wittman Womack Woodall Yoder Yoho Young (IA) Young (IN) Zeldin Zinke NAYS--174 Adams Amash Bass Beatty Becerra Beyer Bishop (GA) Blumenauer Bonamici Boyle, Brendan F. Brady (PA) Brownley (CA) Bustos Butterfield Capps Capuano Cardenas Carney Carson (IN) Cartwright Castor (FL) Castro (TX) Chu, Judy Cicilline Clark (MA) Clarke (NY) Clay Cleaver Clyburn Cohen Connolly Conyers Cooper Courtney Crowley Cummings Davis (CA) Davis, Danny DeFazio DeGette Delaney DeLauro DelBene DeSaulnier Deutch Dingell Doggett Doyle, Michael F. Duckworth Duncan (TN) Edwards Ellison Engel Eshoo Esty Farr Foster Frankel (FL) Fudge Gabbard Gallego Garamendi Grayson Green, Al Green, Gene Grijalva Gutierrez Hahn Hastings Heck (WA) Higgins Himes Hinojosa Honda Hoyer Huffman Israel Jackson Lee Jeffries Johnson (GA) Johnson, E. B. Jones Kaptur Keating Kelly (IL) Kennedy Kildee Kilmer Kind Kuster Langevin Larsen (WA) Larson (CT) Lawrence Lee Levin Lewis Lieu, Ted Loebsack Lofgren Lowenthal Lowey Lujan Grisham (NM) Lujan, Ben Ray (NM) Lynch Maloney, Carolyn Massie Matsui McCollum McDermott McGovern McNerney Meeks Meng Moore Moulton Murphy (FL) Nadler Napolitano Neal Nolan Norcross O'Rourke Pallone Pascrell Payne Pelosi Perlmutter Peters Peterson Pingree Pocan Polis Price (NC) Quigley Rangel Rice (NY) Richmond Roybal-Allard Ruiz Rush Ryan (OH) Sanchez, Linda T. Sarbanes Schakowsky Schiff Schrader Serrano Sewell (AL) Sherman Sires Slaughter Smith (WA) Speier Swalwell (CA) Takano Thompson (CA) Thompson (MS) Titus Tonko Torres Tsongas Van Hollen Vargas Veasey Velazquez Visclosky Walz Wasserman Schultz Waters, Maxine Watson Coleman Welch Wilson (FL) Yarmuth NOT VOTING--13 Brown (FL) Costa DesJarlais Ellmers (NC) Fincher Hardy Johnson, Sam Labrador Palazzo Pitts Sanchez, Loretta Scott (VA) Young (AK)

Mrs. DINGELL, Mr. BISHOP of Georgia, and Mr. AL GREEN of Texas changed their vote from ``yea'' to ``nay.''

So the bill was passed.

The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

Stated for: