Friday, May 15, 2009 | 4:39 p.m.
WASHINGTON - Republican Sen. John Ensign said Friday that even if military detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are not charged with any crimes, they should remain at the military detention facility and can be held there until the war against terrorism ends.
Ensign acknowledged that the Guantanamo facility is not helpful for the United States’ standing overseas, especially in Middle Eastern and European countries.
But after returning from a congressional day-trip to the camp on Friday, Ensign argued that the terror suspects are being treated well and are too dangerous to be transferred to facilities in the U.S.
“They are like having Charles Manson times whatever factor – these people are so dangerous,” Ensign told reporters on a conference call from Washington.
“It is permissible to hold people until the military conflict is over,” Ensign said. “Does anybody think this global war on terror is over? It’s not even close. If these people get out they’re coming back to kill Americans."
As the Obama administration works to close the facility by early next year, Republicans and some Democrats are escalating their criticism, saying it should remain open until there is a full plan for what to do with the detainees.
The Senate next week is expected to take up Obama’s request for funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that will also deal with the Guantanamo issue.
“It is hard to imagine why we would ever think about closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” Ensign said. “I walked away very proud of what our troops are doing down there. I think any American would be proud as well.”
Ensign said the facilities at Gitmo are nicer than prisons in the United States, and said the food detainees were served was better than what he and the traveling lawmakers ate.
“They get better health care than the average American citizen does,” Ensign said.
Ensign visited with Republican Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas, John Barrasso of Wyoming and Mike Johanns of Nebraska.