Commander Kirk Lippold, retired from the U.S. Navy, testified in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday, insisting that Guantanamo Bay remain open for business.
“Keeping Guantanamo open is more important now than ever,” Lippold warned.
The terror detention facility, which has held almost 800 terrorist detainees since 2002 and today holds only 80, has been targeted for closure by President Obama, who argues the prison is “contrary to our values.” Other social activists have demanded the government close Gitmo because it could be used as a terror recruiting tool, it costs too much and it is antithetical to human rights. Lippold condemned these socially popular reasons for closing the prison as flawed and “specious.”
Gitmo, he argued, has not led to recruiting “anymore than movies caused the Benghazi attacks.”
The facility “was designed to be an intelligence center for excellence,” he said. It allows our military to “gain an understanding of how Al Qaeda conducts their operations” – only then can we target them for defeat.
Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, also served as a witness and offered a chilling narrative about the failure to mange Gitmo. Many detainees who are placed on “too dangerous to transfer” lists wind up getting approved, he explained.
“There are dangerous detainees who should be tried,” Joscelyn said.
Several prisoners released from Gitmo have been suspected of returning to the battlefield, confirming Oversight Chairman Rep. Ron Desantis’ assessment that closing the prison does not guarantee people will abandon their jihad against the U.S.
We have to utilize Guantanamo’s unique capabilities and allow it to become a “crown jewel for U.S.,” Lippold insisted. It is the “best place for long-term detention.”
We have a “moral responsibility” to ensure not one more American or global citizen dies at the hands of a terrorist released from Guantanamo Bay, the commander concluded.