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Republicans on Obama's Gitmo Plan: 'It Is Against the Law'

Image: Republicans on Obama's Gitmo Plan: 'It Is Against the Law'
President Barack Obama (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 23 Feb 2016 12:18 PM

Republicans Tuesday struck out at President Barack Obama's long-promised plan to close the United States' detention center at Guantanamo Bay, with several insisting that his plan to transfer detainees to American soil is against the law.

"After seven years, President Obama has yet to convince the American people that moving Guantanamo terrorists to our homeland is smart or safe," House Speaker Paul Ryan said shortly after Obama's announcement, and he doesn't seem interested in continuing to try."

Further, said Ryan, Obama's extensive proposal "fails to provide critical details required by law, including the exact cost and location of an alternate detention facility. Congress has left no room for confusion. It is against the law — and it will stay against the law — to transfer terrorist detainees to American soil. We will not jeopardize our national security over a campaign promise."

Obama's proposal, which has been demanded by opponents resisting Obama's repeated attempts to close the Cuban facility, calls to spend nearly $500 million to transfer from 30 to 60 detainees to U.S. facilities. There have been 13 potential sites that could be used, but the Pentagon has not identified a specific location for the prisoners, a point that angers opponents.

California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa said Tuesday that it was little surprise that Obama made his announcement, as it's been his "goal from day one" to close Gitmo.

"The fact that he's willing to do it in violation of an explicit law probably means two things," said Issa. "One, he has very little to lose in his opinion. He doesn't believe the American people will impeach him, and with the death of Justice [Antonin] Scalia, he might view that the Supreme Court will back him by a 4-4 decision, the liberals letting him do it even if it's a clear violation of the law."            
           
Further, said Issa, the president has signed a law that included not allowing detainees into the United States, but "this is a president who doesn't respect the law or Constitution."

If Obama ignores the law, the matter can be taken to court, Issa continued, but the courts won't likely rule quickly, and meanwhile, the United States has a lease in perpetuity for the Gitmo property.

"For the president to void a lease may be more complicated than just saying so," he said. "If Congress determines that the lease is not authorized to be voided, it's a lease in perpetuity, he may order the military to leave. I have to be quite candid, it's the decision U.S. military leaders have to make: Are they going to obey an unlawful order to move people from Guantanamo, an unlawful order to close the base?"

Retired four-star Gen. Michael Hayden, who headed the CIA under former President George W. Bush and was in office when Gitmo opened, said he believes Obama may have an "almost unnatural demand" to fulfill his promise to close the prison, rather than "being driven by the facts as we know them on the ground."

Still, said Hayden, the Bush administration was trying to reduce Gitmo's population, and "we pushed more people out the door than the Obama administration, but we thought we were winding the war down."

Matters improved for a while, he said, but now it's "ticking back up," and he'd like to see a commitment from Obama that future combatants not be put into the American court system, but he doesn't know where such people will be put.

"This president says we are at war with al-Qaida and ISIS," said Hayden. "So one of the things you do when you are at war is to capture and hold enemy combatants...if we do that, where do we put them? It doesn't have to be Guantanamo."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, tweeted that the president's plan to move prisoners to the U.S. is illegal — an issue Obama addressed in his speech.


McConnell also released a GIF showing mug shots of Guantanamo detainees and their alleged actions.


"Today we received the descriptions of where the president would like to detain terrorists within the United States — though not any actual proposed locations — despite the fact that it would be illegal under current law to transfer foreign terrorists at Guantanamo into the United States," McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday, before Obama's address, reports Politico.

"This isn't a case where the president can even try to justify the use of some 'pen and phone strategy' by claiming that Congress failed to act," he continued. "To the contrary, Congress acted over and over again in a bipartisan way to reject the president's desire to transfer dangerous terrorists to communities in the United States."

In a statement released late Monday,  Sens. Tim Scott, Pat Roberts and Cory Gardner reminded the president that Congress passed a law in November prohibiting the transfer of prisoners detained at Guantanamo to the mainland.

"Military leaders have repeatedly said they will not break the law to close the facility and relocate its prisoners on the mainland, which would be yet another of the administration's misguided national security decisions. With ever-growing threats abroad and our increased efforts to combat ISIS, we need a place to house these terrorists, and that place is not in our communities, nor back on the battlefield," the statement reads.

"This plan is expected to present the options for the relocation of Guantanamo, but regardless of whether it is Kansas, South Carolina, or Colorado, none of these options are acceptable. Our states and our communities remain opposed to moving the world's deadliest terrorists to U.S. soil. The terrorists at Guantanamo Bay are where they should remain – at Guantanamo Bay."

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Republicans Tuesday struck out at President Barack Obama's long-promised plan to close the United States' detention center at Guantanamo Bay, with several insisting that his plan to transfer detainees to American soil is against the law.
republicans, obama, gitmo, plan, against, law
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2016-18-23
Tuesday, 23 Feb 2016 12:18 PM
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