Published November 30, 2012
South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham couldn't have been more clear about his position on bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to a U.S. prison, saying "those crazy bastards" don't belong on American soil.
"Simply stated, the American people don’t want to close Guantanamo Bay, which is an isolated, military-controlled facility, to bring these crazy bastards that want to kill us all to the United States," the South Carolina Republican said Thursday during a debate on the Senate floor.
"Most Americans believe that the people at Guantanamo Bay are not some kind of burglar or bank robber," Graham said. "They are bent on our destruction. And I stand with the American people that we’re under siege, we’re under attack and we’re at war."
“Some of my colleagues in this body have forgotten what 9/11 is all about,” he said. “The people who attacked us on 9/11, in that prison, want to destroy our way of life. They don’t want to steal your car. They don’t want to break in your house. And we’ve got a military prison being well run, so I think the American people are telling everybody in this body, ‘Have you lost your mind? We’re at war. Act like you’re at war.’”
Fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul didn't object to Graham's characterization of the detainees, but did differ with his recommendation.
“I will tell you, since I know this record of this debate will be widely read, that I want to make formal objection to the 'crazy bastards standard,'" Paul said. “I don’t really think that if we’re going to have a ‘crazy bastards’ standard that we shouldn’t have a right to trial by jury, because if we’re going to lock up all the crazy bastards, for goodness sakes, would you not want, if you’re a crazy bastard, to have a right to trial by jury?”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., released a report earlier this week from the Government Accountability Office that concluded the option is viable -- despite Congressional opposition.
"This report demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperiling our national security," Feinstein said.
This is not the first time such a plan has been considered.
President Obama announced plans in late 2009 to buy a state prison in rural Thomson, Ill., and retrofit it to host military trials and house up to 100 terror suspects held in Guantanamo, possibly including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. The plan drew harsh objections from Illinois residents and lawmakers at a public hearing Dec. 22, 2009.
The plan would remove the "taint and the stigma" of Guantanamo and would deprive terrorists of a powerful recruiting tool, Alan Liotta, the Defense Department's principal director for detainee policy, told the hearing.
Republicans lawmakers in Washington objected, noting that a congressional vote is required before detainees not facing trial can be held indefinitely on U.S. soil.
The issue was revived in October, when the Justice Department announced plans to buy the same prison from Illinois for $165 million, though Attorney General Eric Holder, in a letter to lawmakers, said that the prison wouldn't be used for Guantanamo detainees, noting the law prohibits transferring inmates from the prison in Cuba to the U.S. Holder said the facility would instead be used to alleviate overcrowding at federal high-security prisons.
But skeptical Republicans accused the administration of trying to sneak through its longstanding plan to shutter Guantanamo, possibly by moving prisoners from another federal prison to Thomson, and then using that prison to house Guantanamo detainees.
"The president says his goal is to shut down Guantanamo Bay and move the prisoners here," Virginia Republican Frank Wolf told Fox News at the time. "This gives him a great opportunity to do it, particularly right after the election."