Jeff Sessions: Guantanamo Bay is 'a very fine place' for holding terror suspects

"We've spent a lot of money fixing it up," the attorney general said Thursday.

Byby DAVID CAPLAN
March 10, 2017, 3:02 AM

— -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he has no qualms sending newly-captured terror suspects to the Guantanamo Bay detention center, describing it as a "very fine place."

During an interview Thursday with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Sessions was asked if either he or President Trump intend to shut down the facility.

"Well, I have not favored that," Sessions said. "I've been there a number of times as a Senator, and it's just a very fine place for holding these kind of dangerous criminals. We've spent a lot of money fixing it up. And I'm inclined to the view that it remains a perfectly acceptable place. And I think the fact that a lot of the criticisms have just been totally exaggerated."

Sessions said "there's plenty of space" at Guantanamo Bay, adding he would advise the president to send newly-captured suspects to the facility. "We are well equipped for it," he said. "It's a perfect place for it. Eventually, this will be decided by the military rather than the Justice Department. But I see no legal problem whatsoever with doing that."

Hewitt said to Sessions, "the suspected killers of 9/11 .... are there, but the military justice system in place is not getting them to trial ... it's kind of a scandal that no one has faced justice 15 years later. Do you expect to accelerate that process?"

Sessions responded that "it's time for us to think through how we're going to use Guantanamo, to what extent we're going to use military commissions to try these unlawful combatants. They are like prisoners of war, and prisoners of war can be held throughout the time of the conflict. You don't have to release them so they can continue to kill you. But at the same time, if they have violated the rules of war, they can be prosecuted. And we’ve got to work our way through this. It would be done, if done, by the United States Military, their JAG prosecutors."

Sessions said he's in favor of expediting the prosecution of those at Guantanamo Bay, and took the opportunity to slam the Obama administration.

"We've got to get the military on board," Sessions said. "By now, we should have worked through all the legal complications that the Obama administration seemed to allow to linger and never get decided, so nothing ever happened. So it is time for us in the months to come to get this thing figured out and start using it in an effective way."

Sessions told Hewitt he is not keen on trying terror suspects in a federal court. "I don't think we're better off bringing these people to Federal court in New York and trying them in federal court where they get discovery rights to find out our intelligence, and get court-appointed lawyers."

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events