Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, whose parents left Cuba in 1956, is spending Tuesday at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Yahoo News has learned.
The trip is his first to Cuba.
Rubio, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, plans to spend one day at the base to learn more about U.S. operations there, Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said. Rubio is not planning to leave the property, which the U.S. government leases from the island nation.
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A prison on the base is home to hundreds of foreign detainees the U.S. government has labeled "enemy combatants," many of them captured in Afghanistan since al-Qaida's attack on New York and the Pentagon in 2001.
At Intelligence Committee hearings, Rubio has expressed concern about the activities of the detainees once they are released from the prison, and in 2011, he co-sponsored legislation that would ensure that the prison remains open.
"Guantanamo Bay plays an integral part in our ongoing effort to safeguard America, and it is critical that this facility remain open and operating," Rubio said at the time.
Read the trip itinerary here, from Conant:
As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Rubio is traveling to Guantanamo Bay to conduct oversight of the facility, tour the base, and meet with the commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay. This visit will allow Sen. Rubio an opportunity to better understand the role Guantanamo Bay plays in US detention operations, and examine how the military commission process for trying the terrorists housed there is proceeding.
Additionally, Sen. Rubio will be able to hear the Navy's perspective on the strategic value of the base to the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.
During his visit to GITMO, he will tour the Expeditionary Legal Complex (ELC), were military tribunals of detainees recently began. The ELC provides a secure location to secure and try detainees charged by the United States government. It provides full access to sensitive and classified information, full access to defense lawyers and prosecution, and full media access by the press. Rubio will see the role this complex plays as the venue where classified information taken from the battle field is presented.
From there, Senator Rubio will be taken to the Joint Task Force (JTF) Guantanamo headquarters where he will receive an intelligence overview and engage in open discussions with JTF personnel about the various functions conducted there, including intelligence collection, analysis, and dissemination in support of ongoing overseas contingency operations and to the Office of Military Commissions.
He will then meet with Joint Task Force Commander, Rear Admiral David Woods,* U.S. Navy.
Finally, he will tour Camp VI, the building in which detainees are actually held. After this portion, he will conclude his trip and depart.
He will be returning to Miami on Tuesday at approximately 5:15 pm EDT.
* Conant's original statement said Rubio would meet with Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harbeson.
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