Republicans Press Holder Not to Release Uighurs in U.S.
Underscoring the tremendous pressure on the Obama administration surrounding its plans to close Guantanamo Bay, Republicans at today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing repeatedly pressed Attorney General Eric Holder on whether he plans to release “terrorists” into the United States.
Lamar Smith (R-Texas), for example, reminding Holder that he’d promised he wouldn’t release terrorists into the United States, asked: “Do you consider individuals who were trained at terrorist training camps to be terrorists?”
Holder said he’d have to make an individualized determination.
Smith was not deterred. “If someone is a member of a group the United States considers a terrorist group are they a terrorist?” he asked, clearly referring to the Uighurs, who were allegedly involved in weapons training in Afghanistan but have denied membership in the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, which China and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization. The Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay oppose the Chinese government that has oppressed them, but not the United States.
Holder responded: “One of the great justices in the Supreme Court was a member of the Ku Klux Klan at some point so being a member at some point in a group doesn’t always mean” one still poses a danger, he said.
Smith: “I think someone trained in the use of weapons against innocent civilians and membership in a terrorist groups, I ‘d consider to be a terrorist.”
Holder: “If you lay it out that way I’d agree.”
Holder faced similar questioning from Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who asked Holder if he would announce to the American people “which of the 241 [prisoners at Guantanamo Bay] are terrorists?”
On the Democratic side of the aisle, Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) asked a series of questions to establish that the Uighurs are actually a persecuted minority group in China, that the U.S. Congress has passed a resolution criticizing China’s treatment of the Uighurs and “encouraging a change of attitude” towards them, and that they “have no intention to take up arms against the United States.”