Senator says Gitmo detainees can 'rot in hell'

645X363 - Defense Policy Player

Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonCotton: I hope Trump's statement 'got through' to Iran's leaders Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Iran announces it will exceed uranium stockpile restraints of nuclear deal MORE (R-Ark.) on Thursday rebutted the Obama administration’s argument that the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay is a propaganda tool for Islamic militants.

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The reasoning, which has been a cornerstone of President Obama’s renewed push to close the prison, is not a security-based decision “but a political decision based on a promise the president made during his campaign,” Cotton said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

The freshman senator grilled Brian McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for policy, on how many detainees were in the prison during national security incidents over the last few decades, ranging from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to the 1979 capture of the U.S. Embassy in Iran.

McKeon repeatedly replied “zero” and pointed out the facility wasn’t open until 2002.

“In my opinion, the only problem with Guantánamo Bay is there are too many empty beds and cells there right now,” Cotton said.

“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 Guantánamo Bay,” he added.

"Islamic terrorists don’t need an excuse to attack the United States," Cotton said. "They attack us … for who we are."

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) thanked Cotton, who served in the Army during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, for his passion on the issue and said Cotton "deserves kudos" for serving his country during a "difficult time."

Ernst said she agreed with Cotton and could "care less" about the fate of detainees.

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSchumer: Trump must get congressional approval before any military action against Iran Trump faces skepticism about Iran war authority from both parties Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran MORE (D-Va.) said, however, that anyone who believes the president "cooked up" the fears of Gitmo as a propaganda tool is ignoring the facts.