Pushing back on President Barack Obama's pledge to close Guantanamo Bay as global terrorist threats expand, one new lawmaker offered no compromise and tough words before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, The Hill
"In my opinion, the only problem with Guantanamo Bay is there are too many empty beds and cells there right now," said Arkansas' freshman Sen. Tom Cotton as he came down sharply in questioning Brian McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy.
"We should be sending more terrorists there. As far as I’m concerned, every last one of them can rot in hell.
"But as long as they can’t do that, they can rot in Guantanamo Bay," Cotton, a Republican and an Army veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, said, bolstering a hard-line stance against enemy combatants whom he believes should continue to be housed in the Cuban facility — even as the president seeks to close it.
"Islamic terrorists don’t need an excuse to attack the United States," Cotton said, according to The Hill. "They attack us … for who we are."
Cotton's stand was welcomed by another Senate military veteran, Iowa's Joni Ernst, who praised his "passion," The Hill said. She said that she, too, could "care less" about those combatants kept at Guantanamo.
Democrats at the hearing defended Obama, even as his detractors argue that the notion of the prison facility being used by terrorists "as a propaganda tool" is way off.
U.S. intelligence officials said at the hearing that the facility has been used by Islamist terror groups to recruit new followers, but Cotton said he wasn't buying the president's argument for closure, the Huffington Post reported.
"It is not a security decision; it is a political decision based on a promise the president made on his campaign," Cotton said.
Protesters attended the hearing wearing orange jumpsuits like those worn by Gitmo prisoners.
Four senators — Kelly Ayotte, John McCain, Richard Burr and Lindsey Graham — have proposed legislation aimed at reinstating a ban on Yemeni prisoner transfers, among other restrictions, during the president's final two years in office, The Associated Press
Their proposed bill comes after new attacks, including the deadly shootings at the satirical Paris publication Charlie Hebdo, linked to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
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