by Max Brantley
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) gave an impassioned and at moments bizarre speech in a Thursday hearing, calling for the indefinite expansion of the Guantanamo Bay detention center, dismissing clear evidence that the prison helped al-Qaeda recruit, and even that many of its inmates have been innocent.
The bombastic rhetorical style and hawkish language are typical of Cotton, one of the GOP's leading young lights on foreign policy.
"The only problem with Guantanamo Bay is that there are too many empty cells," Cotton continued. "As far as I'm concerned, every last one of them can rot in hell. But as long as they don't do that, then they can rot in Guantanamo Bay."
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) thanked Cotton, who served in the Army during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, for his passion on the issue and said Cotton "deserves kudos" for serving his country during a "difficult time."
Ernst said she agreed with Cotton and could "care less" about the fate of detainees.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said, however, that anyone who believes the president "cooked up" the fears of Gitmo as a propaganda tool is ignoring the facts.