House Panel Votes to Halt Guantanamo Transfers

Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014 05:50 PM

 

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A congressional committee voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to bar the use of federal funds to transfer detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison, as lawmakers expressed anger at the White House's failure to tell them about an exchange of five Taliban prisoners for the last American soldier held in Afghanistan.

The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted 33-13 — with backing from both Republicans and Democrats — to include the Guantanamo amendment in the $570 million annual defense appropriations bill.

The measure expresses "deep concern" about the prisoner swap.

The Guantanamo detention camp, much criticized by human rights groups and others, has been back in the spotlight since May 31, when Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was released after being held for five years by the Taliban.

Bergdahl was exchanged for five Taliban prisoners transferred from Guantanamo to Qatar.

Congress was not informed in advance about the transfer, despite a provision included in an earlier defense bill and signed into law by President Barack Obama requiring that legislators be given 30 days' notice before any prisoner leaves the detention center.

The measure did not require congressional approval.

News of the swap infuriated many lawmakers, particularly Republicans already skeptical about the avowed intention of Obama, a Democrat, to close the Guantanamo facility. Obama signed an executive order the day he became president to close the facility, but it is still open more than five years later.

The amendment was introduced by New Jersey Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen.

The full House is expected to vote on the defense appropriations measure next week.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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