Video: The debate over Gitmo

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updated 6/27/2005 5:36:53 PM ET 2005-06-27T21:36:53

As the controversy surrounding the detainees at Guantanamo Bay continues, two members of Congress with different perspectives joined MSNBC's Amy Robach on Monday to discuss conditions at the detention center.

Fresh off of a visit with several other lawmakers this past weekend, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) talked about the current situation for inmates and whether or not the center should be shuttered.

Amy Robach: Congressman Wilson ... you've been very critical, as have many your Republican colleagues about the comments made by Dick Durbin and others, in fact you said that comments criticizing the treatments of detainees at Guantanamo Bay amounts to 'guerilla warfare' U.S. troops. What did you see when you went down there?

Rep. Joe Wilson: Well I was very impressed, we have professional troops who are conducting themselves, the attorneys there, the JAG, the medical corps, General Hood that Sheila and I met with, these are professionals who are providing a detention facility to protect the American people and it would be my view that members of Congress, Democrat and Republican should visit and see what our troops are doing.

Robach: Congressman Wilson, though with allegations still swirling, would it help having another investigation if it meant clearing America's name in the world?

Wilson: Well it's my view, we've had ten investigations and commissions, we've also had 400 reporters visit the facilities and also the Red Cross has a facility there, I believe another investigation simply would set our troops up for attack instead of for an inquiry.

We don't have anything to hide, I'm confident that with good people like Sheila Jackson Lee and other members of Congress visiting that we can report without the necessity of another commission.

Robach: Well Congresswoman Jackson Lee let me ask you, did you see anything at that prison that would support your call for further inquiry?

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee: Well I think it's important to note that the soldiers and sailors that are there now are doing their job professionally and their families should be very, very proud of them. But I think we should look at this in the before and after, we still have allegations of accusations dealing with nudity and dealing with barking dogs and I think what is important now is to separate the before and after, its important to have a full bipartisan investigation ... it's important to have a full airing, a transparency.

I'll give you the reasons, there have been 31 suicide attempts, they have not been successful, that was before, but they are still lingering in the minds of the international forum. And I think the existence of Guantanamo Bay does pose a threat for our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world. The U.N. wants to come and I think we should allow them to come, we did not have an opportunity to speak to those that were detained, and one of the points that concerns many is the lack of due process, meaning that they're labeled as enemy combatants and until the Supreme Court decision, they have not even had the opportunity to access the Federal Court to determine whether they were been detained, in essence, appropriately.

So, in airing internationally, I think would, would help clear the air and protect American soldiers and provide the elimination of the stigma that was created by bad actors before Congress began to investigate and the changes have begun to be made.

Robach: Congressman Wilson let me ask you this, Congresswoman Jackson Lee just brought up the whole point of due process, it's certainly been an allegation there that these people being detained there have not received due process, you were an attorney for more than 25 years, do you believe they received due process?

Wilson: I believe they have, I was a JAG attorney for 31 years and I'm very proud that in fact they have been provided legal council, they've had administrative reviews, in fact several hundred of the persons there have been released, and they tragically enough, indeed 10 or 12 have turned up back on the battlefield and so if there has been a criticism it would be that we've been too lenient.

But the bottom line is, that indeed I've worked with Congressman Jackson Lee in the past, she has been a real champion of our troops in Afghanistan and I'm just looking foreword to working to protect our troops, protect the American people and that's what this whole detention facility is about, these are hardcore killers. I was most startled to find out how educated they were, how they had traveled the world, these were worldly people who should know better, who had access to millions of dollars they are an extraordinary threat to people around the world and then the interrogation has saved thousands of lives, there hasn't been a single death at Guantanamo, but its my view that the interrogation has saved thousands of lives around the world, in Europe, North America and in Asia because of the information provided be the interrogation.

Jackson Lee: I think it's important to note that the detention has become now the most predominant aspect and I look foreword to working with my colleague as opposed to intelligence, the administrator review tribunals are military, they are not using due process rules.

Therefore I think it is extremely important that we intrude that process, and again, it is the image, might I also say that the interrogators have said, that are there now, that the humane treatment that they have given to these particular detainees have been more affective than the more severe utilization that they have used in the past.

That's why we need transparency, that's why we need to clear the air, that's why I think Congressman Mike looked to join me in a bipartisan investigation, when I say that, where you have the opportunity to speak to the detainees and those who were able to be returned home safely, kept off the battlefield should be returned, again, it's all about our position in a moral high ground around the world.

That's the key to protecting our soldiers and as well to insuring that we get the intelligence to save lives, the bad guys should be punished, the cases should be tried, they should be convicted and incarcerated, but those that can return home absolutely must do so because that sets a new tone for America.

MSNBC Live with Amy Robach and Randy Meier can be seen weekdays from 9 a.m.-Noon.

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