Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Thursday utterly rejected the Obama administration's effort to close the terrorist detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and said the U.S. should be trying to send more terrorists there.
"In my opinion the only problem with Guantanamo Bay is there are too many empty beds and cells there right now," Cotton said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. "We should be sending more terrorists there for further interrogation to keep this country safe."
"As far as I'm concerned, every last one of them can rot in hell," he added. "But as long as they don't do that, then they can rot in Guantanamo Bay."
The committee heard testimony from Brian McKeon, a principal deputy under secretary at the Defense Department, who said that almost 30 percent of terrorists released from Guantanamo Bay have returned to terrorist activities, or are suspected of doing so.
McKeon also said the U.S. needs to close the facility because its existence is being used as a recruiting tool by terrorist groups around the world. But Cotton said that argument is being used as an excuse to close the facility, and said terrorists were attacking the U.S. long before the U.S. started keeping them prisoner in Cuba.
"How many detainees were in Guantanamo Bay on September 11, 2001?" Cotton asked. McKeon admitted the answer is "zero," and Cotton rattled off a list of several other attacks that happened pre-Gitmo.
"Islamic terrorists don't need an excuse to attack the United States," Cotton concluded. "They don't attack us for what they do, they attack us for who we are."
"It is a political decision based on a promise the president made on his campaign," he said of the Obama administration's effort to close the facility. "To say that it is a security decision based on propaganda value that our enemies get from it is a pretext to justify a political decision."
Cotton also noted that while some released detainees are returning to the fight against the United States, none can do so as long as they remain at Guantanamo Bay.
"How many detainees at Guantanamo Bay are engaging in terrorism or anti-American excitement?" he asked McKeon.
"They're pretty locked down…" McKeon replied.
"Because they're detained, because they only engage in that kind of recidivism overseas," Cotton shot back.