Obama May Defy Congress on Gitmo Detainees

Tuesday, 04 Jan 2011 03:30 PM

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President Barack Obama believes that he, not Congress, has final say over whether and where to move Guantanamo detainees, The New York Times reports, citing an article at ProPublica. The White House might assert that authority even as the president signs a defense funding bill that also bars any transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to the United States.

Guantanamo Bay, detainees, Obama, CongressThe internal debate is whether to approve the bill but add a signing statement that objects to the congressional restrictions, which have complicated the president's plan to close the Cuba-based facility for holding captives in the war on terror.

"It remained unclear whether the administration would actually carry out a detainee transfer despite the restrictions, or whether it would merely assert, as an abstract matter, that Mr. Obama had the authority to do so," the Times reports.

As a White House candidate, Obama criticized the Bush administration's broad view of executive power and its use of signing statements to nullify laws it didn't agree with. As president, he has used signing statements and adopted some elements of the Bush White House's view of executive power.

The White House also could delay any confrontation with Congress over detainees by signing the bill and abiding by the congressional restrictions on transfers until they expire on Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. Under pressure, the White House recently shelved plans to bring Guantanamo detainees here for trial in American courts.

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