Obama moves on Gitmo closure, will face resistance in Congress
It is something the president has promised he would do since he first campaigned for the highest office in the land. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama presented his plan to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.
“For many years, it has been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security— it undermines it,” said Obama at a press conference. “This is not just my opinion. This is the opinion of experts, this is the opinion of many in our military. It’s counterproductive to our fight against terrorists, who use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit.”
Through the Department of Defense (DoD), Obama handed Congress his plan for closing the facility. The plan outlines three steps to be taken by the department to figure out what to do with the 91 detainees who remain at Guantanamo.
The facility has drawn the ire of some international and human rights organizations since the outset of the War on Terror. The news that the Obama Administration would take steps to close it was welcomed by some of these observers.
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) February 23, 2016
Amnesty International called the plan a step in the right direction but said that the plan did not fully address what would happen to detainees who are being detained without trial. They called for Obama to try detainees in Federal courts.
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) February 23, 2016
In the most basic terms, the plans set forth three steps.
First, the DoD will follow through with the transfer process for approved detainees. These are those who have deemed by officials to no longer be a significant threat to national security. They will be transferred out to other countries.
Second, a review board made up of members of various national defense and intelligence agencies will review the status of those detainees who are not eligible for transfer but also aren’t currently being charged by “military commission.”
“If certain detainees no longer pose a continuing significant threat, they may be eligible for transfer to another country,” said Obama.
Third, and this is where it gets tricky, establish a plan for everyone else. These would be those who are deemed too dangerous to be release but are not yet being tried as well as those who are being tried or have been sentenced.
The plan hints at the possibility of bringing some of those detainees to detainment facilities in the continental U.S. should the DoD not be able to find anywhere to put them. To do this, Congress would need lift a ban on the transfer of Gitmo detainees to U.S. soil.
This did not sit well with some lawmakers.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said the president has failed to prove that moving detainees onto U.S. soil is right thing to do.
"His proposal fails to provide critical details required by law, including the exact cost and location of an alternate detention facility," said Ryan. "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."
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) February 23, 2016
Senator Pat Toomey and Rep. Patrick Meehan also took to social media to voice their discontent with President Obama's plan.
— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) February 23, 2016
Bringing terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay to the United States is against the law. https://t.co/EtrPEgvS0R
— Patrick Meehan (@RepMeehan) February 23, 2016