President Obama is urging Congress to approve the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, allow for the transfer of remaining detainees to the U.S. and try them in U.S. courts.
In calling for the policy change, Obama said the move would save taxpayers money without compromising security. In fact, Obama argues that America is less safe because of the facility.
“For many years, it’s been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security. It undermines it,” said Obama Tuesday. “This is not just my opinion. This is the opinion of many in our military. It’s counterproductive to our fight against terrorists because they use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit.”
Retired three-star U.S. Air Force Gen. Tom McInerney isn’t buying it.
“That absolutely false. It’s like, ‘If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.’ There is no truth to that whatsoever,” said McInerney.
McInerney, who rose to the third highest position in the Air Force, is also a Fox News military analyst. He says we can’t be safer when 30 percent of the detainees released return to radical groups and continue their efforts to kill Americans and other enemies.
He says the existence of the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay doesn’t change the terrorists’ game plan one iota.
“They’re beheading people because of their radical ideology of radical Islam; the Koran, the Hadith and Sharia Law. That’s what motivates those people, not because they’ve got people in Gitmo,” said McInerney.
The general sees countless downsides to Obama trying to shutter the camp but is struggling to see any good reasons to do it.
“Why would we do this and encourage other future radical Islamists to think, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter if I’m captured, they’re not going to do anything to me?” said McInerney.
When asked to answer his own question, McInerney says Obama has committed a series of national security blunders that make the U.S. more vulnerable.
“I do not know why he did all the things he does. Why did he exchange Sgt. (Bowe) Bergdahl for five four-star general equivalents? Why did he not respond in Benghazi and send reinforcements?” said McInerney. “Why did he flip to supporting radical Islamists in 2012? I don’t have those answers except every one of them ends up with aiding and abetting the enemy.”
McInerney also referenced the Obama administration releasing more than $100 billion in frozen Iranian assets as part of the Iran nuclear deal, even as Secretary of State John Kerry admitted some of that money would likely sponsor terrorism.
Obama says the American people should be reassured that federal courts can handle most of the remaining cases originating from Guantanamo, but McInerney is outraged that Obama would extend the constitutional protections enjoyed by all citizens to our enemies.
“Why would we give them the rights of every American citizen? That makes no sense. What kind of president do we have that is basically aiding and abetting the enemy,” said McInerney.
Obama says access to American courts did not stop the convictions of would-be terrorists such as attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid, attempted Christmas Day underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. He says they were found guilty and pose no threat to the U.S. even though they remain on our soil.
Does that assuage McInerney’s concerns?
“They were not caught on the battlefield. If you’re caught on the battlefield then you should be treated appropriately. We didn’t let the German and Japanese POW’s go before the end of World War II, did we?” asked McInerney.
He says closing Guantanamo would be a huge mistake.
“Who knows? We may have to put a lot more in there depending how the situation goes in the Middle East. We ought to keep them there for the rest of their lives until the war is over. We should not be releasing any of them,” said McInerney.
Obama will travel to Cuba in March to highlight the restoration of diplomatic relations between the long-estranged countries. One of the conditions the U.S. imposed for improved ties was for Cuba to radically improve its human rights record. That has not happened and Cuba now says it not only wants the detention camp shut down but that it wants the U.S. Navy to abandon Guantanamo Bay altogether.
While the administration has said that’s not on the table, McInerney fears Obama may be open to that.
“I do believe he is and that’s why he’s trying to get that number (of detainees) down. We don not want to give Guantanamo back. That is a valuable piece of real estate, even if it isn’t a prison. It was a very important naval gunnery range that we had for many years. So we should not want to give that back,” said McInerney.