Addressing one of the thorniest issues that faces his young administration, President Obama on Thursday is scheduled to outline plans for the 240 terror suspects still being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Democrats in the Senate on Tuesday blocked the $80 million the President requested in order to close the detention center, putting Mr. Obama's promise to shut down Guantanamo by January 22, 2010 in jeopardy.
In recent days, critics and supporters have spoken out on President Obama's handling of the controversy. They are demanding a more detailed plan, especially assurances that no terror suspects will end up on American soil. Here are some of the top quotes:
Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (R): "It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness and would make the American people
less safe...the administration has found that it's easy to receive applause in Europe for
closing Guantanamo. But it's tricky to come up with an alternative that will
serve the interests of justice and America's national security."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D) Nevada:
"Guantanamo makes us less safe...Democrats under no circumstances will move forward without a comprehensive, responsible plan from the President. We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R) Kentucky:
“Guantanamo is the perfect place for these terrorists. However, if the President ends up sticking with this decision to close it next January, obviously they need a place to be. It ought not to be the United States of America.”
Senator John McCain, (R) Arizona:
"Every administration makes mistakes. They made mistakes by the way they are handling it and now they are trying to fix it... they dug themselves a very deep hole."
Michele A. Flournoy, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy:
"When we are asking allies to do their fair share in dealing with this challenge, we need to do our fair share. This is a case where we need to ask members of Congress to take a more strategic view. Many of these members called for the closing of Guantanamo, and we need their partnership in making that possible."
Senator James Webb, (D) Virginia:
"We spent hundreds of millions of dollars building an appropriate facility with all security precautions on Guantanamo to try these cases. I do not believe they should be tried in the United States."
Senator James Inhofe, (R) Oklahoma:
"The... problem that I have is that if somehow they come in to our country and we can’t use tribunals because we don’t have facilities for that, they go into the court system, they could very well be turned loose because the rules of evidence are different with tribunals… with detainees than they are with criminals."
Rep. Lamar Smith, (R) Texas: "No good purpose is served by allowing known terrorists, who trained at terrorist training camps, to come to the U.S. and live among us. Guantanamo Bay was never meant to be an Ellis Island."
FBI Director Robert Mueller:
"The concerns we have about individuals who may support terrorism being in the United States run from concerns about providing financing, radicalizing others... and the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States."