Interview With Sen. Mitch McConnell

Interview With Sen. Mitch McConnell
March 18th, 2009  
Team Infidel

Topic: Interview With Sen. Mitch McConnell

Interview With Sen. Mitch McConnell
March 17, 2009
The Situation Room (CNN), 5:00 PM
(Joined in progress.)
WOLF BLITZER: Let’s talk about national security right now. Including the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and I know you are very focused in on this right now. The former vice president, Dick Cheney, told our own John King on Sunday that he believed that the steps taken by president Obama since taking office on these terror related issues have undermined U.S. national security, made the U.S. weaker. Do you agree with the vice president?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) [Minority Leader]: Let me tell you what I do feel. I do feel that an arbitrary decision to close Guantanamo by a certain date doesn’t deal with the issue. And the issue is we have the worst of the worst at Guantanamo. These are the worst terrorists you can imagine. We let some of these suspects down there go, 12 percent of them have gone back to the battlefield. And have tried to kill Americans. And some succeed in killing Americans. We know that no one has ever escaped from Guantanamo. And so if you are going to make a hard decision to close Guantanamo by a certain date, then you need to answer the question, what are you going do with them?
A couple of years ago we had a vote in the senate about moving prisoners at Guantanamo to the United States. The vote was 94-3 against putting these terrorists on American soil. So my criticism of the new administration is maybe it is popular in Europe to say you are going to close Guantanamo, although by the way, European visitors at Guantanamo – one from Belgium – said it was better than their prisons. You can make that decision, but what are you going to do with them? These are extraordinarily dangerous people.
BLITZER: They say they are going to study it for a year and make them – as long as a year before they decide. They are not closing it for at least a year. That’s what they say but let me get back to the question –
MCCONNELL: But that’s the whole point, Wolf. If you are going to announce a time for closing it, what are you going to do with it?
BLITZER: They’re looking for answers right now – where to move these prisoners, whether to Europe, some other place, continental United States. They’re going through a process of reviewing it.
MCCONNELL: Can I suggest the answer?
MCCONNELL: They are in the perfect place now. They are being treated well. All the visitors know they are being treated well. These are enemy combatants. We know the American people overwhelmingly do not want them here in this country. We at the direction of the Supreme Court set up a military commission system to try those who need to be tried, a system for trying them. This is not broke. We don’t need to fix it.
BLITZER: Do you agree with the vice president, Dick Cheney, when he says that he believes president Obama has weakened U.S. security since taking office?
MCCONNELL: Well, what I believe is what I just said. I do not think that the president should have an arbitrary deadline for closing Guantanamo. He used to have an arbitrary deadline for getting out of Iraq. He adjusted that. He’s basically adopted the policy of the previous administration with regard not only to Iraq but to Afghanistan. He has shown he can adjust his sails. To pick an arbitrary date to close Guantanamo when you have no idea what to do with these hardened terrorists who have been involved in killing Americans is, in my view, not the right course of action.
I hope he will reconsider during the course of this year – you know, the previous administration wanted to close Guantanamo and never did it because there was no good answer to the question of what to do with these terrorists.
BLITZER: You know some Republicans who want to close it, too, including John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
MCCONNELL: President Bush did, too, but he never actually did it – never put an arbitrary deadline it because there is no good answer, Wolf, to the question of what to do.
BLITZER: You don’t want go as far, though, as what Dick Cheney said. I will just leave it at that. I’m not going to press you any further. Thanks for coming in.
MCCONNELL: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Senator Mitch McConnell is the top Republican in the Senate.

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