Added to the president’s worries is a new toughness among some lawmakers on Guantanamo. Earlier this month, five GOP freshmen senators — Tom Cotton of Arkansas, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, and Mike Rounds of South Dakota — toured Guantanamo and came away full of praise.
“Guantanamo Bay houses some of the most heinous and evil criminals of our time — the worst of the worst — and my visit today reinforces my belief that we must keep this facility open,” said Tillis.
“More than ever, it is clear how vital it is to our national interest to keep these terrorists at Guantanamo Bay,” added Ernst.
Then there is Cotton. Before the visit, the Army veteran of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan famously said, “In my opinion the only problem with Guantanamo Bay is there are too many empty beds and cells there right now. … As far as I’m concerned every last one of them can rot in hell, but as long as they don’t do that, they can rot in Guantanamo Bay.”