GOP Congressmen Attempt to Block Efforts to Close Guantanamo

Restrictions on transferring prisoners elsewhere


Distracted by the flurry of scandals that seem to plague the White House on a daily basis, the media barely covered (beyond a brief Associated Press report) this week's news that the House Armed Services Committee passed a new National Defense Authorization Act bill (NDAA 2014)  that includes restrictions  initiated by committee Chair Rep. Buck McKeon, R-CA., on transferring any prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to anywhere in the U.S or its territories, and to any foreign country that has a "confirmed case of any individual transferred from U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the same country or entity who engaged in terrorist activity subsequent to their transfer." Knowing how the government fiddles with those statistics already, it shouldn't be hard to find such 'confirmed cases' if they wanted to.

The bill also continues the current practice of requiring a waiver or "written certification" from the Department of Defense to congress based on "several requirements" before any prisoner can be considered for transfer to a foreign country, whether or not that prisoner has already been cleared for release. These certifications have been blamed in part for the roadblocks to getting any prisoners transferred in recent years.

The bill, which passed committee on June 5 by a 59 to 2 vote, also includes $248 million in new construction money for the Guantanamo Bay facilities, more signals of permanency for the controversial prison system.

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  1. Now, I know this is going to sound a little extreme, but here’s a thought.

    If congress is going to prevent the transfer of prisoners out of the base at Guantanamo, why not just turn the entire base itself back to Cuba, eliminating the need to transfer the prisoners anywhere. Just clean out our gear, remove the personnel, and the last airplane out can turn the keys over to the Cubans.

    Now, I am sure they would prefer not to have all of those prisoners to deal with, but I suspect they would be quite happy to have Guantanamo back, and would probably tolerate having to sort out what to do with the prisoners as part of the deal.

    It seems, at least on the face of it, like this option could be implemented unilaterally by the president, as commander in chief, without needing any special legislation to implement it…

    Any thoughts on why this couldn’t or shouldn’t be done?

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