Tags: John McCain | War on Terrorism | gitmo | terror | close | defense bill | john mccain

McCain, GOP Still Waiting on WH Plan to Close Gitmo

McCain, GOP Still Waiting on WH Plan to Close Gitmo
(Joe Readle/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 20 July 2015 12:48 PM

As Senate and House Republicans spar over aspects of the National Defense Authorization Act — specifically, they are at odds over provisions to close Guantánamo Bay — the White House continues to drag its feet in providing the long-promised plan to shutter the terrorist detention camp, according to Politico.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, backs a plan to close the prison camp so long as the White House agrees to a congressional review of it.

"Congress is simply asking the executive branch to explain where it will hold those set for trial, how it will continue to detain dangerous terrorists pursuant to the laws of war, and how it will mitigate the risks of moving this population," said McCain, responding to reports that the White House has threatened to veto his bill.

"If the administration can provide answers to these basic questions to the satisfaction of the American people, then congressional restrictions on the movement of these detainees will be lifted."

McCain pointed to the exorbitant cost involved with housing prisoners at the Cuban facility.

"Right now, my friends in the House need to understand that it costs, I think, $2.3 million per detainee at Guantánamo," McCain said. "It would cost approximately $70,000 per year if they were in a maximum security prison in the United States."

House Republicans have called for tougher restrictions on transferring detainees, something that would make closing the facility more difficult.

Republicans on both sides of the issue are huddling this week with the hope of striking a consensus before the congressional recess that starts in August, according to Politico. A reported sticking point is what to do with detainees "too dangerous to be released who cannot be tried in court."

The New York Times' "Guantanamo Docket" reports that of the 780 people who have been detained at Guantánamo Bay, 655 have been transferred and 116 remained as of June 16. Nine Gitmo detainees have died in custody.

Obama summoned McCain to the White House in May to discuss Gitmo’s future, according to The Hill, and days later, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and White House counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco promised McCain a plan.

"I have not heard a word since," the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman said last week.

While the Senate proposal, accord to Politico, would strengthen some of the restrictions to transfer detainees to other countries or to the United States, "it also for the first time would offer the administration an escape ramp. If it submits a plan for closing the prison — and that plan were approved by Congress — then it could begin transferring prisoners to the U.S. for trial or incarceration."

Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, the House Armed Services chairman, said last month that he’d be willing to consider the Senate plan.

"The president, if he can come up with an approach that can get support, then I don’t think anybody’s just pining to keep the detention facility open forever," said Thornberry. "But you’ve gotta get people’s support ... you’ve got a handle on the issues related here, and he has not been able to do that."

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As Senate and House Republicans spar over aspects of the National Defense Authorization Act - especially provisions to close Guantánamo Bay - the White House continues to drag its feet in providing the long-promised plan to shutter the terrorist detention camp, according to Politico.
gitmo, terror, close, defense bill, john mccain
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2015-48-20
Monday, 20 July 2015 12:48 PM
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