Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), a staunch opponent of any efforts to close the military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, said Tuesday he is open to holding civilian trials on the remote naval base following a trip to the facility last week.
"During our trip we discussed the possibility of holding civilian trials at Guantanamo Bay for certain detainees," Wolf said in a statement on Tuesday. "Again, I stress, any trials -- whether military commission or Article III – should be held at Guantanamo Bay, not on American soil."
The disclosure came after Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) told The Huffington Post that Wolf and other members of Virginia's congressional delegation were looking at ways to hold civilian trials at Guantanamo following their trip to the base's prison camps.
"We decided tentatively that we would look into the possibility of a compromise which would be to conduct American civilian trials at Guantanamo," Moran said. "Are U.S. uniformed military personnel really a jury of your peers? I just don't think that even though they might be very legitimate trial outcomes that they're going to be accepted by the rest of the world or by the defendants and the defendant attorneys."
Only a handful of Guantanamo's 166 detainees have been charged through the military commissions process, while the U.S. federal court system has successfully prosecuted hundreds of terrorism cases. Eighty-six of Guantanamo's detainees have been cleared for transfer, but the Obama administration is only currently trying to send two of them home.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) were also along for the trip to Guantanamo last week. Wolf, who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds both the Bureau of Prisons and Department of Justice, said he remained convinced that Guantanamo is necessary.
"The American service men and women working at Guantanamo Bay are doing an outstanding job, despite the constant threat of physical and verbal attacks, mass disturbances and ‘splashing,’ when detainees mix urine and feces with milk and throw it in the guards’ faces," Wolf said.