Senator Says Gitmo Detainees 'Can Rot In Hell'

It's the latest tense exchange in the ongoing debate over the prison camp.

ByABC News
February 5, 2015, 3:04 PM

— -- In the latest tense exchange over the fate of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Sen. Tom Cotton took a hard line Thursday against the Obama administration’s push to shut the prison down.

“In my opinion, the only problem of Guantanamo Bay is there are too many empty beds and cells there right now,” said Cotton, R-Arkansas. “We should be sending more terrorists there for further interrogation to keep this country safe.”

The freshman senator dismissed the widespread criticisms of the detention center in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, including the argument that the detention center helps fuel propaganda for terrorists.

Islamic terrorists don't need an excuse to attack the United States. They don't attack us for what we do, they attack us for who we are,” Cotton said.

In an exchange with DOD Principal Deputy Undersecretary for Policy Brian McKeon, Cotton said the Obama administration’s move to shut down the facility and relocate prisoners is based on politics, not security or human rights concerns.

“As far as I’m concerned, every last one of them can rot in hell, but as long as they don’t do that, then they can rot in Guantanamo Bay!” Cotton said, shutting off his mic.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, then tried to lighten the mood, beginning his line of questioning by saying “… And on that happy note.”

Manchin then told the committee he used to hold similar views with Cotton before he visited the detention center himself.

“I came back changed,” Manchin said. “It's not an atmosphere that our guards should be in or our military people should -- with their talent, should be used and wasted along those lines, is what I saw.”