Opinion Columns & Blogs

Rep. Mike Pompeo: We can trust Rubio to keep our country safe

President Obama continues to place his political legacy above the safety and security of the American people. This is frighteningly clear in his misguided proposal to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and bring terrorists held there to the American homeland.

We must not forget who these individuals are. Guantanamo detainees include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, architect of the USS Cole bombing that killed 17 American sailors.

We can trust Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to keep our country safe and keep Guantanamo terrorists out of the United States. He has been a reliable ally of mine and many others in Congress and has sponsored and supported legislation to oppose Obama’s dangerous plan. Rubio is the only candidate who has consistently supported our country’s annual defense authorization bill, which prohibits the transfers of terrorists to the United States.

In contrast, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has voted against the annual defense authorization bill every year he has been in the Senate. This bill is the law of the land that currently prohibits Obama from bringing these terrorists to our country. Cruz has joined repeatedly with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in opposing its passage.

Obama continues to let terrorists held there go free, despite irrefutable evidence that many are returning to the battlefield to plot new attacks against the United States and our allies. Obama’s own officials have testified that upwards of 30 percent of released detainees have rejoined jihadist groups. For example, the current spokesman for al-Qaida in Yemen was a former Guantanamo detainee, whom Obama released in 2012.

Last week, Obama announced his plan to close Guantanamo, which included releasing dozens of the 91 remaining terrorists to other countries. He also wants to bring the remaining terrorists, who are too dangerous to release, to locations in the United States, including potentially Fort Leavenworth. If Congress does not give in to his demands, Obama might issue executive orders to bring detainees to the United States, which would violate current U.S. law.

Obama’s own officials agree with critics such as Rubio and myself that the president should adhere to the many laws he has signed that prevent him from acting in the way he is threatening. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford have all pointed out, some multiple times, that if Obama brings these terrorists to our country, he would break many U.S. laws.

I held a public forum with Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, recently near Fort Leavenworth to discuss that site potentially holding Guantanamo detainees. Although Obama is considering moving these terrorists from Cuba to Kansas to fulfill a campaign promise, I heard that Kansans want the jihadists to stay right where they are, not brought to their backyards.

As president, Rubio will not play political games with the safety of the American people. His administration’s detention policy will ensure that we keep dangerous terrorists off the battlefield and provide our intelligence professionals with the tools they need to effectively detect and disrupt terrorist plots.

We need a commander-in-chief like Rubio who will do what is necessary to protect the American homeland.

Mike Pompeo is a Republican member of Congress from Wichita.