[Congressional Record: May 4, 2009 (House)]
[Page H5065-H5068]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Virginia (Mr. Wolf) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. WOLF. Madam Speaker, it is my understanding that President 
Obama's decision regarding the release into the U.S. of a number of 
Uyghur detainees held at Guantanamo Bay since 2002 could be imminent.
  The New York Times, ABC News and other news outlets have reported 
that the President will soon release these terrorists into the United 
States, yet this Congress has not been briefed on this decision.
  Let me be clear, these terrorists would not be held in prisons, but 
they would be released into your neighborhoods. They should not be 
released into the United States. Do Members realize who these people 
  There have been published reports that the Uyghurs were members of 
the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, a designated terrorist 
organization affiliated with al Qaeda.
  Releasing the Uyghurs is a matter of grave concern, a matter which 
prompted me to send a letter to the President last Friday detailing my 
reservations about any course of action that could pose a threat to the 
American people.
  In my letter I called on the President to declassify all information 
about the capture and detention of the Uyghur detainees, including a 
threat assessment for each detainee who would be released in the U.S.
  The American people, Madam Speaker, deserve the facts about these 
detainees and the risk they potentially pose to our communities.
  Following the precedent that the administration set in declassifying 
the Office of Legal Counsel interrogation memos, they have a moral 
obligation to the American people to declassify all relevant 
information related to the Uyghur detainees.
  This administration has already shown that it has no qualms about 
releasing selected classified documents. The White House cannot just 
pick and choose what classified information it deems worthy of 
releasing. It cannot have it both ways. It shouldn't release 
information that conveniently makes their case without making 
information with profound national security implications available to 
the American people.
  After learning that this decision was imminent, I requested briefings 
from a number of relevant agencies, but all the agencies have told me 
that our Department of Justice is now preventing them from speaking to 
me directly on this issue. So much for being open. So much for 
  Is the Attorney General preventing agencies from answering Members' 
questions? Is this a political decision being made by Eric Holder, the 
Attorney General?
  This is not the transparency and accountability the President 
promised, nor is it the open and constructive relationship they claim 
they want with Congress. This is, at best, a poor judgment and, at 
worst, a dangerous hypocrisy.
  Is the administration intent on keeping Congress and the American 
people in the dark about critically important national security issues?
  Madam Speaker, I have criticized both Republican and Democratic 
administrations for actions that I believe undermine the safety and the 
security of the American people.
  I have not received responses to two letters to Attorney General 
Holder on the transfer of Guantanamo Bay prisoners. The first letter 
was dated March 13. The second letter was dated April 23. And I will 
submit them for the Record. They still have not answered the letters. 
My office has been told by the White House that some of the questions I 
have asked cannot even be answered.
  When Attorney General Holder appeared before the Commerce-Justice-
Science appropriations subcommittee, he poignantly said he would not 
play hide and seek with the information. What are they now trying to 
hide from the American people?
  The Attorney General is slow-rolling the information as terrorist 
detainees are potentially going to be released into the United States.
  According to an L.A. Times article published last week, ``The 
Homeland Security Department has registered concerns about the plan,'' 
among other government agencies.

[[Page H5066]]

  Information I have received indicates that the Uyghurs may be more 
dangerous than the public has been led to believe.
  Just last night, 60 Minutes had a disturbing segment which touched on 
the radicalization of the Guantanamo Bay detainees. The story indicated 
that in Saudi Arabia alone, of 117 men returned from Guantanamo, 11 
have shown up again on Saudi Arabia's most wanted terrorist list.
  Any intelligence assessment of the Uyghurs must take into account not 
only their previous training at terrorist camps but their potential 
subsequent exposure to the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 
mastermind of 9/11 who took pleasure in the beheading of Wall Street 
Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
  I say to this administration, the American people have a right to 
know all the facts, and I fear personally that expediency is clouding 
their judgment, which is inexcusable after we saw what took place on 9/
  The stakes are simply too high for this administration to reasonably 
think that the American people should simply take their word that these 
men pose no security threats. I call on the Obama administration to 
declassify and release all the information that they have available so 
the American people can make a judgment.

                                     House of Representatives,

                                      Washington, DC, May 1, 2009.
     Hon. Barack H. Obama,
     President, the White House,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. President: It is my understanding that your 
     decision regarding whether to release a number of Chinese 
     Uyghur detainees held at Guantanamo Bay into the United 
     States is imminent. I have grave concerns about this action, 
     which I believe could directly threaten the security of the 
     American people.
       Information I have received indicates that the Uyghurs may 
     be more dangerous than the public has been led to believe. I 
     write today asking that you declassify all intelligence 
     regarding their capture, detention, and your administration's 
     assessment of the threat they may pose to Americans, prior to 
     any decision to release them. The American people deserve to 
     have all the facts about these individuals before they should 
     be expected to tolerate their presence in our communities.
       I believe your administration also has an obligation to 
     explain to the American people how you will monitor the 
     Uyghurs' activities should they be released in the U.S. 
     Additionally, all state and local law enforcement should 
     immediately be notified of your intended decision, provided a 
     threat assessment of the released Uyghurs, and informed of 
     the federal government's plans to monitor their activities 
     once released.
       Following the precedent you have set in declassifying the 
     Office of Legal Counsel interrogation memos, you have a moral 
     obligation to declassify this critical information. The 
     American people cannot afford to simply take your word that 
     these detainees, who were captured training in terrorist 
     camps, are not a threat if released into our communities.
       Best wishes.
                                                    Frank R. Wolf,
     Member of Congress.

                                     House of Representatives,

                                   Washington, DC, April 23, 2009.
     Hon. Eric H. Holder, Jr.,
     Attorney General, Department of Justice,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Attorney General Holder: My letter of March 13 
     indicated my concerns about bringing enemy combatants from 
     the detention facility at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 
     to the United States. I understand that the president has 
     given you the task of determining the release, transfer or 
     prosecution of these detainees. I noted your recent comments 
     on how this is the most challenging aspect of your job as 
     attorney general and I respect the difficulty of your 
       But as I have learned more about these detainees and 
     received additional information from terrorism experts, I 
     remain extremely concerned that transferring these combatants 
     to locations near large civilian populations would place an 
     overwhelming burden on the court system and endanger public 
       The detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay are some of 
     the most dangerous individuals in the world who have openly 
     dedicated their lives to killing Americans. Kahlid Sheik 
     Mohammed was the architect of the 9/11 attacks and took 
     pleasure in beheading Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel 
     Pearl. Ramzi Binalshibh was identified as one of the planners 
     of 9/11 and was supposed to be one of the hijackers until he 
     was denied entry into the United States. Walid bin Attash is 
     believed to be the mastermind behind the bombing of the 
     U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in 2000. These individuals are 
     responsible for planning the deaths of thousands of 
       Guantanamo Bay also houses combatants who were detained 
     after actively trying to kill U.S. troops in Iraq and 
     Afghanistan. From news reports I have read, it appears 
     consideration is being given to allow these detainees rights 
     that go beyond protections offered U.S. military personnel by 
     the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Giving such rights to 
     the men listed above greatly concerns me.
       Earlier trials of terrorists in the U.S. demonstrated the 
     necessity for extraordinary security resources that would be 
     needed if some of those at Guantanamo are transferred here. 
     Newsday and the Buffalo News reported that during the 1995 
     trial in New York of Omar Abdel Rahman, the mastermind of the 
     1993 World Trade Center bombing, terrorist confederates of El 
     Sayyid Nosair, another World Trade Center bombing planner, 
     were plotting to break him out of Attica State Prison in New 
     York. In the same case, court tapes show that conspirators 
     provided each other assurance that, in the event that some 
     were captured, the others would work to free them. In 
     addition, during the 2000 trial of Mahmud Salim, one of the 
     terrorists accused of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in 
     Kenya, he stabbed New York prison guard Louis Pepe in the eye 
     during an escape attempt. Al Qaeda saw the rights given to 
     its members to meet with counsel as an opportunity to carry 
     out a violent escape attempt. Mr. Salim was one of the 
     original followers of Osama bin Laden and the highest ranking 
     al Qaeda member held in the U.S. at the time.
       In addition to trying to escape from prison, al Qaeda 
     members have communicated with confederates while in prison. 
     It is my understanding that El Sayyid Nosair was involved in 
     plotting the 1993 World Trade Center bombing while in custody 
     in Attica State Prison. In addition, Osama bin Laden has 
     publicly credited Sheik Abdel Rahman with issuing the 
     ``fatwa'' that approved the 9/11 attacks while he was in 
     federal prison, despite the high security confinement 
     conditions imposed on him. It also emerged later that, with 
     the assistance of his lawyer, Rahman was continuing to send 
     instructional messages to the Islamic Group, his Egyptian 
     terrorist organization.
       In 2004, NBC News reported that, despite their 
     incarceration in maximum security conditions, convicted World 
     Trade Center bombers were communicating by mail with 
     terrorists in Madrid, Spain. There would certainly be strong 
     reasons to believe that detainees currently held at 
     Guantanamo Bay--who are known to have rioted and grossly 
     abused prison guards--would use their access to counsel and 
     investigators in order to convey messages to their allies.
       It took federal prosecutors eight years in the 1990s to try 
     29 defendants charged with terrorism-related crimes as a 
     result of attacks on U.S. property and interests abroad. The 
     detention facility at Guantanamo Bay currently holds almost 
     10 times that number. If it took eight years to prosecute 29 
     individuals, how long will it take to transfer and prosecute 
     over 200?
       How is the Justice Department responding to the fact that 
     prosecutors, judges, and juries in recent terrorism trials, 
     and their families, have required government protection 
     measures, sometimes for many years, at great cost in manpower 
     and to our security budget? Has the Justice Department 
     estimated the cost of providing enhanced personal security 
     for trials yet to come?
       I am also concerned about the extra costs that will be 
     incurred in preparing prisons and courthouses for possible 
     trials. I understand that the courthouses in which prior 
     terrorism cases were litigated and the prisons where 
     defendants were held had to be ``hardened'' to accommodate 
     terrorism prosecutions and the attendant threats they entail 
     for participants and the public. Can you provide me with what 
     the cost was for these upgrades? Has the Justice Department 
     considered what the cost will be for upgrading facilities for 
     detainees who may be transferred to the civilian court 
       I am also concerned about the precedent that the standards 
     set in Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court case regarding 
     al Qaeda operative Lakhdar Boumediene, which granted habeas 
     corpus rights to Guantanamo detainees, would set for future 
     cases. In his dissent in this case, Justice Antonin Scalia 
     raised the issue that if enemy combatants currently housed at 
     Guantanamo Bay are given habeas corpus rights, the same 
     rights would have to be given to any combatant detained where 
     the U.S. military conducts operations. Recently, Justice 
     Scalia's admonition has proved prescient as a federal judge 
     in Washington ruled that Boumediene's grant of habeas corpus 
     rights now extends to Afghanistan.
       The process in deciding where the detainees will ultimately 
     be housed and under what means they will be tried should be 
     transparent so the American people know who is making these 
     important decisions. I believe that the Justice Department 
     should meet with those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 
     attacks as well as the families of service members who have 
     died in Iraq and Afghanistan and ask for their perspective on 
     the fate of these detainees, especially those who played a 
     lead role in carrying out the attacks.
       If you are convinced these combatants must be transferred 
     to the United States, I believe an isolated part of the 
     country away from population centers would be a better 
     choice. As your department continues to consider plans for 
     these combatants, I ask that you please address these issues 
     as well as the questions I asked in my earlier letter. I also 
     have these additional questions:
       1. The trial of Zacharias Moussaoui in Alexandria, 
     Virginia, lasted over four years due

[[Page H5067]]

     primarily to the judge's belief that the due process 
     standards applicable in civilian trials required more 
     disclosure than the Justice Department believed was required 
     and safe to provide. I understand any appeal to the 4th 
     Circuit Court could take up to an additional year per trial. 
     Considering that a federal appeals court in New York just 
     recently decided an appeal in the embassy bombing case--more 
     than a decade after the attack and eight years after the 
     trial--how long does your department envision civilian legal 
     proceedings for Guantanamo detainees taking?
       2. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mohammed al Qatani and Ramzi 
     Binalshibh have been linked directly to the September 11, 
     2001, attacks and appear far more culpable than Zacharias 
     Moussaoui. Will the Justice Department seek the death penalty 
     for detainees such as them? If so, does the Justice 
     Department think seeking the death penalty would lengthen 
     each trial, and, if so, for how long?
       3. Will the defense attorneys for these combatants be given 
     access to classified evidence that would inevitably lead to 
     legal challenge and possible consideration by the Supreme 
     Court, adding more time to trials?
       4. If terror suspects are brought into the civilian system 
     for trial and they insist on representing themselves, would 
     the Justice Department allow them access to all discovery, 
     including classified national defense information?
       5. Will defense attorneys be allowed discovery on all such 
     evidence and be allowed to challenge its admission in court? 
     Would this require allowing defense attorneys to enter combat 
     zones to view evidence?
       6. Will U.S. service members who collected evidence on the 
     battlefield be forced to leave their duties in theater and 
     return to the United States to give testimony in open court?
       7. Will military personnel be required to have training on 
     how to legally obtain evidence and preserve the chain of 
     command needed to make such evidence admissible in court?
       8. Will every combatant be given full legal rights and will 
     these rights also be given to combatants detained in the 
       9. The system of military tribunals for these combatants 
     was designed to avoid the difficulties inherent in civilian 
     trials. If the military is trusted to run a system of justice 
     good enough for members of our armed forces, why is it deemed 
     insufficiently fair for these detainees who have openly 
     stated they are ``terrorists to the bone?''
       10. If these combatants are transferred to the U.S. Court 
     for the Eastern District of Virginia, how will the trials of 
     other defendants in that court be affected?
       11. If regular defense attorneys are not allowed to meet 
     with clients at the jail facility in Alexandria due to 
     increased security associated with these combatants, is the 
     Justice Department concerned that those cases could be 
     delayed to the point where those defendants have grounds for 
       12. The Moussaoui trial took a heavy toll on the 
     prosecution team and I would be concerned that extended 
     trials for numerous combatants could overwhelm the legal 
     staffs. Do you have a plan for addressing how prosecution 
     teams will work?
       13. Are you concerned about the safety of the legal staff 
     and the jurors who are assigned to these cases and have steps 
     been taken to ensure their safety and the safety of their 
       14. Has the Justice Department considered establishing a 
     separate court similar to the FISA court where judges would 
     be assigned these cases on a rotating basis?
       15. Has the Justice Department considered consulting with 
     military experts, U.S. Marshals and other law enforcement 
     officials before determining the safest place to house these 
       16. Have you consulted with the families of the victims of 
     9/11 as well as the families of the service members killed in 
     Iraq and Afghanistan as to how these detainees should be 
     prosecuted? If not, will you direct your staff to do so?
       17. Will the Justice Department provide the Appropriations 
     Committee with the costs for the security measures 
     necessitated by the terrorism cases of the 1990s and the 
     Moussaoui case?
       18. The Congress has received your FY 2009 supplemental 
     request, seeking $47 million for some ongoing DOJ activities. 
     But the majority of the funding, $36.4 million, is for 
     activities related to the closure of the Guantanamo detention 
     facility. Can you tell the Appropriations Committee what 
     exactly the department is doing related to Guantanamo, and 
     what you are proposing to do in the future with the requested 
     supplemental funding?
       19. I understand that you have created three task forces to 
     implement the executive orders regarding Guantanamo Bay. How 
     many individual detainee cases must be reviewed and disposed 
       20. Can you provide a list of possible outcomes from these 
     task forces, such as transferring detainees to their home 
     countries or detaining them indefinitely without trial?
       21. For any detainees released to third countries, what 
     assurances are you seeking from those governments in order to 
     minimize the risks of recidivism?
       22. You have stated that the issues related to closing 
     Guantanamo Bay represent your biggest challenge. If the task 
     forces conclude that the risks associated with civilian 
     trials in the United States are too dangerous and costly, 
     will you recommend to the president that the closure of the 
     detention facility be delayed?
       23. Beyond the supplemental request, what other post-
     Guantanamo requirements will there be?
       I realize that your department has numerous issues to 
     address before Guantanamo Bay is closed and all the 
     combatants housed there moved. As the Justice Department 
     continues to consider the disposition of these combatants, I 
     think it is important for Congress to play an active role. As 
     my previous letter stated, I take Congress's oversight role 
     seriously and believe that Congress must be consulted before 
     any of these combatants are moved to the continental U.S.
       Thank you for your service.
                                                    Frank R. Wolf,
     Member of Congress.

                                     House of Representatives,

                                   Washington, DC, March 13, 2009.
     Hon. Eric H. Holder, Jr.
     Attorney General, Department of Justice,
     Washington DC.
       Dear Attorney General Holder: President Obama recently 
     issued an executive order to close the detention facility at 
     Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and decisions must now be 
     made regarding how and where to house the 250 suspected 
     terrorists and enemy combatants held there.
       I was particularly concerned to read in the March 7 
     Washington Post that some of these detainees may be tried in 
     and housed by the United States District Court for the 
     Eastern District of Virginia (Eastern District of Virginia) 
     or the United States District Court for the Southern District 
     of New York. Their presence so close to large civilian 
     population centers raises serious questions of security and 
     logistics for any region forced to accept these detainees.
       I do not--and would not--support the transfer of any 
     prisoners presently being detained at Guantanamo Bay to any 
     facilities in Virginia and have joined Virginia colleagues 
     Reps. Randy Forbes and Eric Cantor in introducing legislation 
     (H.R. 1186) to prohibit prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay 
     detention facility from being transferred to federal prisons 
     or military bases in Virginia.
       I take seriously the responsibility of congressional 
     oversight, especially in matters with national security 
     implications. In 1998 I authored legislation that created the 
     National Commission on Terrorism. Unfortunately, it took the 
     horrific events of September 11, 2001, for the 
     recommendations of the commission to be taken seriously. I 
     have traveled to Sudan five times and seen evidence of the 
     terrorist training camps used by Osama bin Laden in the 
       The first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 was 
     treated as a routine criminal case by the Clinton 
     administration when there were clear indications from Sheik 
     Omar Abdel-Rahman that terrorism was the intent of the 
       Furthermore, the individuals currently at Guantanamo Bay 
     are members of the same organization that bombed the U.S. 
     embassies in Kenya and Tanzania as well as the USS Cole in 
       The March 11 Washington Post detailed how a detainee 
     recently released from Guantanamo Bay is now the operations 
     commander of Taliban forces attacking U.S. and NATO forces in 
     southern Afghanistan. There also have been news reports that 
     61 of the detainees that were processed and released from 
     Guantanamo Bay were recaptured fighting American forces. If 
     those individuals were deemed safe to release from custody 
     yet returned to terrorist activities and killing Americans, 
     what does that say about how dangerous the detainees still at 
     Guantanamo Bay must be?
       I was also troubled to read that five Guantanamo detainees 
     described themselves as ``terrorists to the bone,'' and 
     stated in a court filing that they describe their role in the 
     9/11 attacks as ``a badge of honor.'' These dangerous 
     individuals simply cannot be transferred anywhere near large 
     civilian populations.
       As the ranking member on the House Appropriations Commerce-
     Justice-Science Subcommittee, I am particularly concerned 
     about the complexities of bringing any of these enemy 
     combatants to any installation, military or civilian, close 
     to U.S. civilian populations. Regardless of where these 
     detainees are confined, I would appreciate your detailed 
     response to the following questions:
       1. What steps has the Justice Department taken to assure 
     the security of the surrounding population if such violent 
     combatants are confined and tried in urban areas?
       2. What precautions will be taken to ensure that the 
     detainees do not escape?
       3. Is the Obama administration concerned that the presence 
     of these detainees will invite attacks from ideological 
     followers in an attempt to set them free and, if so, what 
     precautions are being taken to prevent this scenario?
       4. How will the detainees be transported to the 
       5. What type of security cordon will be in place if 
     detainees are transported on local highways?
       6. Has the Justice Department considered the traffic 
     disruptions associated with road closures around federal 
     courthouses and local jails during the trials of these 
       7. If the detainees are flown to any location, will they 
     use military or commercial airports?
       8. If commercial airports are used, will terminals have to 
     be evacuated to ensure security?

[[Page H5068]]

       9. What will be the security perimeter around federal 
     courthouses and will local residents and businesses be forced 
     to move or close to ensure security? If so, for how long?
       10. Will Metrorail stations in close proximity to the U.S. 
     Courthouse in Alexandria be closed?
       11. Will the Westin Hotel, approximately 200 feet from the 
     courthouse, and the Patent and Trademark Office, 
     approximately 250 feet from the courthouse be evacuated?
       12. Has the Justice Department considered the impact such 
     detainees will have on local prisons, such as the city jail 
     in Alexandria, where federal defendants are often held during 
       13. Will prisoners in local jails have to be moved to 
     provide a secure location for housing these combatants, and, 
     if so, who will bear the costs associated with their 
       14. Will there be an extensive list of rules and 
     regulations given to local and state officials regarding the 
     housing and trial of these suspects? If so, will a copy of 
     the regulations be made available to state and local 
     officials as well as members of Congress?
       15. Will state and local law enforcement officers be 
     required to assist federal officials and will the federal 
     government compensate those agencies for the use of those 
     officers' time?
       16. What costs will be associated with the trial and what 
     portion, if any, will be borne by state and local 
       17. Has the Justice Department consulted with the Defense 
     Department regarding its ability or willingness to house 
     these detainees?
       18. Do a set of protocols for transferring and housing 
     these individuals exist, and, if so, will you make it 
     available to members of Congress?
       19. What discussions regarding these detainees, if any, 
     have administration officials had with the commanders of the 
     Naval Station Brig in Norfolk, Virginia; the Marine Corps 
     Base at Quantico, Virginia, or any other military 
     instillation in the contiguous United States, Alaska or 
       20. Has the administration or the Department of Defense had 
     any discussions with Naval commanders regarding the 
     possibility of transferring detainees to U.S. Naval vessels 
     either in U.S. territorial or international waters?
       21. Has the administration had any discussions with the 
     warden of the Administrative Maximum prison facility in 
     Florence, Colorado, regarding the difficulties surrounding 
     the housing of Zacharias Moussaoui and how other prisons 
     might be affected by housing similar detainees?
       22. Has the administration had discussions with any of the 
     detainees' country of origin regarding their willingness to 
     accept custody?
       While I understand that the Eastern District of Virginia 
     and the Southern District of New York have successfully held 
     the only trials to date of terror suspects, I remain 
     extremely concerned that adequate thought has not been given 
     to the extensive security, financial and logistical costs 
     associated with the transfer of any of these individuals to 
     civilian court districts. State and local officials, as well 
     as the citizens of northern Virginia, will face many 
     challenges and dangers with these combatants housed in the 
     Eastern District of Virginia.
       I look forward to receiving your responses to these 
     concerns. Best wishes.
                                                    Frank R. Wolf,
     Member of Congress.


[Congressional Record: May 4, 2009 (House)]
[Page H5069]


  (Mr. WOLF asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 
minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)
  Mr. WOLF. Mr. Speaker, the Members of this institution ought to know 
that this administration and the Justice Department may be very close 
to releasing terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, the Uyghurs, out into the 
public, out around the country. And we are calling on the Justice 
Department to release any of the memos with regard to who these people 
are on individual cases. If they were members of a terrorist group, I 
believe the American people need to know.
  This administration and Justice selectively released memos but will 
not tell the full story. So I urge all Members, unless you want them, 
these Uyghurs, terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, to move to your 
neighborhood, ask Attorney General Eric Holder, release all this 
classified information so the American people can know what we are 
about ready to face.