Despite U.S. authorities determining that none of the 166 prisoners being kept at Guantanamo Bay pose a threat to Americans, Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas insisted the prison should be kept open Sunday.
“The president talks about releasing these detainees but history shows clearly: 25% of the folks that have been released today have returned to the battlefield to wreak havoc against American interests to continue to battle for Islamic jihad,” Pompeo said in an interview with msnbc’s Craig Melvin. “I don’t think it makes any sense, when you’ve got at least a quarter of the folks who you’re going to release come back and present a risk to Americans, to let anybody go who poses that kind of threat to America.”
In a speech at National Defense University Thursday, President Obama said that the prison at Guantanamo Bay was used as a recruiting tool by al-Qaida and hurt American credibility abroad. Obama once again pledged to close the controversial prison, where detainees have been held without trial for more than a decade.
More than 100 of the detainees have participated in a hunger strike that has led to what civil liberties advocates have called a humanitarian crisis, where guards are force-feeding prisoners through nasal cavities.
Pompeo, who visited Guantanamo Bay last week, said that was not the case.
“It is not a crisis mode,” he said Sunday. “We have prisoners down there that have chosen not to consume calories, have chosen not to take protein. We now have an obligation to try to take care of them. The last thing to say about these folks who are assertedly hunger strikers is that they look to me like a lot of them have put on weight.”
The congressman, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, added that closing Guantanamo Bay prison would be impractical because, “there’s no country that can provide us with the security assurances that we would need to do that.”