Freshman sen: 'Savages' detained at Gitmo

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster  Will Putin sink Biden? MORE (R-Ark.) said that America should be “proud” of the way America treated “savages” at Guantanamo Bay and balked at the notion that the prison should close.

“The people that are now left at Guantanamo Bay, approximately 120 terrorists, are not innocent goat herders — there’s no one there who is not a hardened terrorist,” he said Monday night on Fox News’s “The Kelly File.”

“We can’t expect our soldiers in the middle of a battle in 2001 to be CSI detectives, they are there to fight and win our country’s war, and that means taking captive terrorists who have a clear known intent to attack Americans whenever and wherever they can if they are released from Guantanamo Bay.”

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Cotton, a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, said last week during a hearing that detainees should “rot in hell,” a line that was criticized by a lawyer for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged architect of 9/11. The lawyer, David Nevin, called those comments shameful and said they set a dangerous precedent for Americans captured abroad.

The senator’s comments also come a few months after the lame-duck Senate Intelligence Committee, then led by Democrats, released its report on the CIA’s use of torture as an intelligence technique. The report included instances of “rectal feeding” and waterboarding at secret prison locations.

President Obama promised to close the prison as a presidential candidate, but Congress has successfully fought his attempts to do so. His administration has cleared about 50 current detainees for release, deeming them no longer a national security threat, according to the Close Guantanamo project. The detainees still remain at the prison as the administration negotiates their future.

But Cotton struck back against those attempts and warned that by some estimations, almost a third of released detainees return to the battlefield to fight Americans. Politifact recently rated that claim “mostly false,” and cites administration documents showing that number includes those who are both confirmed and suspected of “re-engaging,” along with those who are dead or back in custody.

“If they didn’t want to be detained indefinitely, they shouldn’t have taken up arms against America, they shouldn’t have helped mastermind the terrorist attack that killed 3,000 Americans,” Cotton said.

He added that it’s “regrettable” that Obama continues to try to shutter the prison and hasn’t sent a detainee there since he took office.

“We should preserve Guantanamo Bay as a critical part in the overall war on terror, we should be sending more terrorists there,” he said.

“It’s always good to kill a terrorist if that’s the only choice, but it's even better to capture them and interrogate them so we can develop more intelligence so we can stop attacks against the American homeland and against American citizens and interests around the world.”