On Tuesday, during hearings for Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham got into an intense exchange with top Democrat Dick Durbin over the question of what to do about Guantanamo Bay detainees.
Graham got so upset he ended up storming out of the hearing.
Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democratic Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, was speaking about long-rumored plans to close down Guantanamo Bay and transfer the prisoners to prisons on the U.S. mainland.
Durbin was arguing that there would be cost-savings by moving inmates out of Gitmo – noting that it costs about $12-13 million per year to house the prisoners at the Cuba base. He said it would be “dramatically cheaper” to transfer the inmates to a prison in the United States, specifically in the city of Florence, Colorado prison.
When Durbin added that the recidivism rate – meaning returning to terrorism or war – of a released Gitmo detainee is 5 percent, Graham got heated.
Graham jumped in to say “Mr. Chairman, according to the Director of National Intelligence, it’s 31 percent.”
“Somebody is wrong here,” the Republican emphasized. “If you’re gonna talk about what I said I’m going to respond to what you said. If we close Gitmo and move them to Colorado, do you support indefinite detention under war for these detainees?”
Durbin replied, “I just want to be clear here that I’m giving the facts.”
Graham still wasn’t having it.
“The answer is no. What does it matter when it goes back to? We had them and they got loose and they started killing people. If you were one of the people killed in 2005, does it matter to you when we release them?”
The GOP senator then went ever further.
“As long as they’re dangerous, I hope they all die in jail if they’re gonna go back and kill Americans,” an excited Graham said. “It won’t bother me one bit if 39 of them die in prison.”
“That’s a better outcome than letting them go and if it costs $500 million to keep them in jail, keep them in jail because they’re gonna go back to the fight!” the senator ranted. “Look at the friggin Afghan government, it’s made up of former detainees in Gitmo. This whole thing by the left about this war ain’t working!”
Graham then got up from his seat and walked away from the hearing.
During Ketanji Brown Jackson’s tenure as a public defender she represented four Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The most recent report from the Director of National Intelligence appears to show that of 729 men released from Gitmo, 125 have “reengaged,” or returned to terrorism or war.
Since 2009, that number has been 10 out of 197.
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