- The Washington Times - Friday, May 15, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

COMMENTARY:

No welfare for terrorists. That is my message to the Obama administration’s suggestion that taxpayers should foot the bill for terrorist detainees it wants to release into our society so they can start a new life in America.

Far from theory, the Obama administration this month sought to make this terrible idea a reality. The administration was nearly successful in releasing 30 terrorists into communities in Northern Virginia but was stopped thanks to efforts by Republicans who understand the danger this would have created for American citizens. The suggestion by National Intelligence Director Dennis C. Blair that we should provide these terrorists public welfare prompted me to introduce legislation called the No Welfare for Terrorists Act of 2009 to ensure this never happens.

About 240 hardened terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay have been captured on the battlefields in Afghanistan, Iraq and in terrorist training camps. If President Obama and the Democratic majority shut down the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainee facility - the safest and most secure prison in the world - many of these terrorists could be released onto our streets and be eligible for public welfare assistance.

This is, of course, a ludicrous and insulting proposition put forth by the administration.

The thought of our hard-earned taxpayer dollars being used to ensure terrorists released onto our streets can start a new life is simply outrageous. Uncle Sam handing out food stamps and welfare checks to militant Muslim extremists who have been held at Guantanamo Bay alongside some of the most vile and dangerous terrorists in the world is not a course I support. I suspect most Americans would agree this should never be permitted.

Instead of keeping remorseless terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility away from our children and our families, the Obama administration is suggesting a welcome mat for terrorists paid for by you and me. Based on what we know from previously released detainees, such men do not want a new life here in America. They want death and destruction for our country and are eager to help make that happen.

Of the hundreds of already released prisoners from Guantanamo Bay who were not considered a threat to the United States, 11 percent (that we know of) returned to a life of active terrorism against America.

The No Welfare for Terrorists Act simply prohibits detainees held at Guantanamo Bay from ever receiving government welfare benefits. The American people, under no circumstance, should foot welfare benefits for terrorists.

Our servicemen and -women have fought - and many have paid the ultimate sacrifice - to keep our country safe. Members of our intelligence community have worked tirelessly to help prevent terrorists from entering our country, and we should do everything possible to make sure it stays that way. We do not want terrorists transferred to our communities or released on our streets.

On the same day I introduced the No Welfare for Terrorists Act, I gave House Appropriations Committee members an opportunity to do more than oppose public assistance for terrorists. I offered an amendment during committee markup of the fiscal 2009 supplemental spending bill that prohibited any taxpayer dollars from being used to transfer or release terrorist detainees held in Guantanamo Bay to the United States.

With live coverage of the debate on C-SPAN, committee Democrats voted in perfect unity with Mr. Obama against the Tiahrt amendment and to allow the administration the ability to transfer terrorists to our communities with full knowledge that some of these men will end up on our streets. Despite a united Republican effort, we lost that vote.

The militant extremists at Guantanamo want to harm innocent civilians and bring destruction to our economy. They do not belong in Northern Virginia, in my home state of Kansas or any other town or city in this great country. And they certainly do not deserve welfare benefits paid for by American taxpayers.

Closing the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainee facility without a plan for handling the terrorist is a terribly misguided decision. Transferring, or worse yet, releasing terrorists into our communities with taxpayer-funded welfare benefits is even more insulting and must be met with vehement opposition.

Todd Tiahrt, Kansas Republican, is a member of the House of Representatives.

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