Senator says Gitmo detainees can 'rot in hell'

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Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonOvernight Defense: Senators show skepticism over Space Force | Navy drops charges against officers in deadly collision | Trump taps next Navy chief Senators show deep skepticism on Space Force proposal GOP senators introduce bill to reduce legal immigration  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 KaineOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Democratic proposals to overhaul health care: A 2020 primer Dems ask Justice Dept to release findings of Acosta-Epstein investigation 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.