Walz: Minn. should be open to holding Gitmo detainees

Rep. Tim Walz
Rep. Tim Walz, who represents Minnesota's 1st Congressional District.
MPR Photo/Sea Stachura

U.S. Rep. Tim Walz said today that facilities in Minnesota should be open to holding detainees from Guantanamo Bay under some circumstances.

Walz, a Democrat who represents southern Minnesota's 1st District, made the comments during a conference call about his recent fact-finding trip to the Middle East.

Walz said he thinks the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay is a serious obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

Walz said Guantanamo should be closed, and the detainees there should be dealt with appropriately. He said that could include care at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester.

"If all the procedures are in place, as they've been done with everyone else, if we're very clear on what the legal avenues that these people have, I think our professionals there can handle it," Walz said.

Walz cited the case of Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called blind sheik, who was held in Rochester for four years after being convicted of involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Abdel-Rahman is currently being held in North Carolina.

Walz said he met with Syrian president Bashir Assad, and told Assad that his country needs to block fighters from entering Iraq where they can attack U.S. troops.

"I have friends, people that I know that are serving in the region, and I told him that I take it very personally if his hand is not there to stop those foreign fighters, that he is responsible for that," Walz said.

Walz and Sen. Edward Kaufman of Delaware were the first U.S. officials to meet with the Syrian president since the U.S. renewed Bush administration trade sanctions against the country last month.

Walz said Assad acknowledged the concern, but didn't make any commitments regarding border security.


Editor's Note: Rep. Tim Walz served in the National Guard for 24 years, but is not an Iraq War veteran. An earlier version of this story was incorrect.