On CSPAN’s Newsmakers today, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) attacked President Obama’s efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. “The real question is why do it and the only answer is, ‘well, it’s a symbol,'” said Kyl, adding that “the terrorists don’t need Guantanamo to figure out that they don’t like the United States.” When the host noted that Guantanamo “has been an issue in Europe, among leaders, our allies,” Kyl replied, “big deal.” “They didn’t like the fact that we invaded Iraq and replaced Saddam Hussein either.” Watch it:
Considering that the decision to invade Iraq ultimately “made the American people less secure,” Kyl shouldn’t be so dismissive of those who said from the start that it was a mistake. Likewise with Guantanamo Bay. Kyl dismisses the negative symbolic power of Guantanamo, but as the Center for Strategic & International Studies concluded in September 2008, “the United States has been damaged by Guantánamo beyond any immediate security benefits. Our enemies have achieved a propaganda windfall that enables recruitment to violence, while our friends have found it more difficult to cooperate with us.”
KYL: So, the real question is why do it. And the only answer is, “well, it’s a symbol.” A symbol of what? The terrorists don’t need Guantanamo to figure out that they don’t like the United States. Guantanamo didn’t even exist before 9/11 and yet you had the attack on the Cole, the Khobar towers, the African embassy bombings, the first World Trade Center, the 9/11. Terrorists have all kinds of reasons why they don’t like the United States. And if we’re going to, every time that they say something’s a recruiting tool, say “then we’ll stop doing that,” are we going to, you know, stop having voting in this country? The culture that we have? Are we going to take away women’s rights? These Islamists don’t like those things about us. So, are we going to change our way of life to take away a recruiting tool for them? I think not.
HOST: But it has been an issue in Europe, among leaders, our allies. They’ve pointed to that as something…
KYL: Big deal. You know, the fact that some European leader — first of all, they didn’t like the fact that we invaded Iraq and replaced Saddam Hussein either. But we decided it was our best interest to do that. So we did. And I don’t think we have to, just because somebody over in Frances says, “oh we think its a bad thing that you have that prison in Guantanamo.” You know, my answer is ok, fine, what would you do with them? France is willing to take one prisoner.