Wednesday | October 28, 2015

AYOTTE, SCOTT, CAPITO EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR FEMALE GUARDS AT GUANTANAMO

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) held a joint press conference to discuss their visit last week to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The senators discussed a military court order issued at the request of the "9/11 Five" that restricts how fully-qualified and well-performing women guards at Guantanamo do their jobs-simply because they are women. During their visit, the senators met with women guards at Guantanamo and discussed how this court order is negatively impacting operations, inhibiting their ability to compete successfully for promotion, and damaging morale.

"As the women guards at Guantanamo told us, they just want to do their jobs and they can't believe that we are allowing terrorists who murdered almost 3,000 people to dictate how U.S. service members do their jobs-simply because they are women.That is an insult to every woman and man who puts their lives on the line to serve our country, and I hope the administration will speak out more forcefully for these women," said Senator Ayotte. "The American people should be incredibly proud of our troops serving at Guantanamo. They are military professionals-deployed away from their families and homes-who are conducting transparent, humane, legal, and secure law of war detention of very dangerous terrorists under difficult circumstances. Our troops serving there deserve our deepest gratitude and respect."

"These terrorists - truly the worst of the worst - are manipulating our legal system to the detriment of our dedicated women guards," Senator Scott said. "These women put their lives on the line for our nation, and I cannot thank them enough for the work they do every day guarding these dangerous detainees. Our troops serving at Guantanamo are doing an amazing job, and we should not allow that fact to be tarnished by the demands of terrorists."

"After visiting Guantanamo for the first time and seeing firsthand the incredible character of the men and women serving at the detention facility, I am deeply concerned with a court order that prevents female service members from doing their jobs and serving in the same capacity as their male counterparts," said Senator Capito. "These women deserve better and should not be prevented from fully performing their duties simply because of a capitulation to the demands of terrorists."

The 9/11 Five, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are charged with masterminding or facilitating theSeptember 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Ayotte raised the issue in a March 2015hearingwith General John Kelly, the commander of Southern Command, and expressed concern that women service members werebeing prevented from performing fully their jobs and serving in the same capacity as theirmale counterparts.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this morning, both the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter agreed with Senator Ayotte and the Commander of U.S. Southern Command, General John Kelly-calling the restrictions on women guards "outrageous".

In total, there are 114 detainees still detained at Guantanamo, and they include terrorist trainers, former bodyguards of Osama bin Laden, terrorist financiers, recruiters and facilitators, and bomb makers.

A Joint Task Force Guantanamo official told the congressional delegation that there have been 250 assaults by detainees on the guard force in the last 16 months. In those assaults-which consisted of physical attacks, "splashing", and spitting on our guards for example-not once did a guard retaliate. Splashing is a method of assault in which detainees collect bodily fluids (e.g. vomit, feces, urine) and throw, spray, or project them at members of the guard force.

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