Gitmo In Our Backyard

- November 5, 2015

Obama Is Set To Employ The Clinton Playbook To Bypass Congress And Bring Gitmo Terrorists To The United States


  • The White House is set to announce a new plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and bring the most dangerous terrorists onto U.S. soil. The White House has said that it will not rule out using executive action to bypass congressional opposition.
  • Community residents are strongly opposed to the housing of the most dangerous Gitmo detainees in their states and past attempts to relocate them to the U.S. has been met with strong bipartisan opposition.
  • Hillary Clinton is an architect of the Obama plan, and as Secretary of State she urged the White House to work harder on closing the facility and proposed using waivers to bypass lawmakers.

In The Coming Days, Obama Is Expected To Deliver Congress A Guantanamo Facility Closure Plan, Which Will Recommend Sending Some Prisoners To Facilities In The United States. "The White House is finalizing a Guantanamo closure plan that's expected to be delivered to Congress in the coming days. The plan will recommend speeding detainee transfers to other nations, and allowing for some prisoners to be relocated to facilities in the United States." (Jim Acosta and Kevin Liptak, "WH: Executive Action Possible On Closing Gitmo," CNN , 11/4/15)

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest "Refused To Rule Out Executive Action" On Closing Guantanamo Bay Prison. "The White House on Wednesday refused to rule out executive action to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, saying past refusal from Congress to take steps to shutter the facility have led to little optimism that a legislative solution is possible. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, asked about the possibility that President Barack Obama could take unilateral moves to transfer detainees to the United States, said all options remain in play." (Jim Acosta and Kevin Liptak, "WH: Executive Action Possible On Closing Gitmo," CNN , 11/4/15)

  • Earnest On Whether Obama Would Consider Unilateral Action: "I Would Not Take Anything Off The Table In Terms Of The President Doing Everything That He Can To Achieve This Critically Important National Security Objective." QUESTION: "And if you're blocked legislatively from achieving that portion of the plan, or the goal to close the detention center, the President would not consider going around the legislative branch of government, would he not -- in moving those detainees out of Guantanamo? Can you state categorically whether or not he would do that?" EARNEST: "Well, at this point, I would not take anything off the table in terms of the President doing everything that he can to achieve this critically important national security objective." (Josh Earnest, White House Press Briefing, Washington, D.C., 11/4/15)

Community Residents Are Strongly Opposed To Obama's Proposal To House The Most Dangerous Gitmo Detainees In The U.S.

"Defense Officials Have Been Surveying Sites In South Carolina, Kansas And Colorado As Potential Locations To House Guantanamo Detainees…" "Defense officials have been surveying sites in South Carolina, Kansas and Colorado as potential locations to house Guantanamo detainees who the U.S. government has determined cannot be transferred to their home countries." (Jim Acosta and Kevin Liptak, "WH: Executive Action Possible On Closing Gitmo," CNN , 11/4/15)

  • "These Detainees Are Considered Too Dangerous To Release At All. They're Known As 'Unreleasables.'" "Labeled as 'enemy combatants,' they've been held for more than a decade without trial in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at a camp President Obama has promised to close. Unlike the 52 other captives at Guantanamo whose release can occur as soon as a country is found to take them, these detainees are considered too dangerous to release at all. They're known as 'unreleasables.'" (David Welna, "Kansas, South Carolina Take NIMBY Stance On Guantanamo Prisoners," NPR, 8/26/15)

South Carolina Residents And Lawmakers Have Long Been Opposed To The Idea Of Gitmo Detainees Coming To Charleston. "The possibility of the brig being used for detainees has surfaced several times in recent years, with residents and lawmakers opposing the idea." (Schuyler Kropf, "Charleston Navy Brig To Be Reviewed As Possible Terrorist Holding Site," The Post And Courier , 8/14/15)

Kansas Residents, "Sometimes Shaking With Passion," Expressed Their Fears And Opposition To Gitmo Detainees Being Housed In Their Community. "With earnest voices, sometimes shaking with passion, residents at a town hall meeting Thursday took direct aim at the prospect of Guantánamo Bay detainees being transferred to Fort Leavenworth. One by one, a host of speakers came to the microphone at Riverfront Community Center, many to express fears that the fort, town and region would serve as a new target for terrorist attacks if the detainees were housed here." (Edward M. Eveld, "Residents Say 'No' To Possibility Of Transferring Guantánamo Detainees To Fort Leavenworth," The Kansas City Star, 9/3/15)

Colorado Residents "Draw The Line" With Gitmo Prisoners Coming To Their Community Out Of Fear That It Would Make The Area A Target For Terrorists. "Prisons have long been a way of life in this southern Colorado community, where schoolchildren practice inmate-escape drills and almost everyone counts a relative who works in corrections. People are accustomed to some of the nation's most dangerous criminals living nearby in the 13 state and federal prisons emerging from Fremont County's rolling desert peaks. But the possibility of housing suspected and convicted terrorists from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is where some residents draw the line. …Though prisoners living just miles away from Canon City include a Sept. 11 conspirator and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, residents worry about international attention possibly making the area a target for terrorists and their sympathizers." (Sadie Gurman, "Possible Guantanamo Transfer Raises Worries, Hopes In Colorado Town Used To Dangerous Inmates," The Associated Press, 10/15/15)


In 2010, Obama Administration Proposed Sending Gitmo Detainees To An Illinois Prison. "President Obama on Monday will propose a $3.8-trillion fiscal 2011 federal budget that includes $237 million for the purchase and upgrading of a prison in Illinois to house detainees now at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba. Obama sends his spending blueprint to Congress, with the money to buy the nearly vacant Thomson Correctional Center in northwest Illinois, 150 miles west of Chicago, in the Department of Justice funding request. The State of Illinois and the federal government are currently negotiating over the purchase price of Thomson." (Lynn Sweet, "Obama Budget Includes $237 Million To Buy Illinois Prison For Guantanamo Detainees," The Chicago Sun-Times' "Lynn Sweet" Blog, 2/1/10)

But That Plan Faced Fierce Bipartisan Opposition On Capitol Hill. "Rebuffed this month by skeptical lawmakers when it sought finances to buy a prison in rural Illinois, the Obama administration is struggling to come up with the money to replace the Guantánamo Bay prison… This year, Congress restricted the ability of the executive branch to transfer detainees into domestic prisons, a ban reiterated in the 2010 military appropriations bill." (Charlie Savage, "Plan To Move Guantánamo Detainees Faces New Delay," The New York Times, 12/22/10)

In 2009, 88 Democrats Voted In Favor Of Restricting "The Entry Of Terror Detainees To The United States." "Rep. Harold Rogers (Ky.), the GOP appropriator who called for Thursday's House vote on Gitmo, said the restrictions are needed to prevent the entry of terror detainees to the United States. The Obama administration has pledged to close the prison, but it hasn't told lawmakers what it would do with the detainees. Rogers and Republicans have used the uncertainty to suggest that the detainees could end up endangering Americans in their own communities….House Democratic leadership opposed Rogers's motion, but 88 Democrats ended up voting for it along with all but seven GOP members. The motion was approved, 258-163." (Walter Alarkon, "Congress Uses Spending Bills To Halt Closing Of Guantanamo Bay Prison," The Hill, 10/4/09)

In 2010, 187 Democrats Voted For The FY 2011National Defense Authorization Act, Which Prohibited The Obama Administration From Using Funds To Transfer Guantanamo Prisoners To The U.S. "Sec. 1032. Prohibition on the use of funds for the transfer or release of individuals detained at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." ( H.R.6523, Roll Call Vote #650: Passed 341-48: R 154-6; D 187-42; 12/17/10)

In 2009, 221 Democrats Voted To Put Restrictions On Obama's Ability To Transfer Prisoners Out Of Guantanamo Bay. "(Sec. 14103) Prohibits any funds from being used to release an individual who is detained, as of the date of enactment of this Act, at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, or the District of Columbia. Prohibits any such release for the purpose of detaining or prosecuting any such individual until 45 days after Congress receives from the President a plan regarding the proposed disposition. Requires the plan to include: (1) the risk to national security posed by the transfer; (2) costs associated with transferring an individual; (3) the legal rationale and associated court demands for transfer; (4) a plan to mitigate transfer risk; and (5) a copy of a notification to the governor of the state to which an individual will be transferred (or Mayor, with respect to the District of Columbia) with a certification by the Attorney General that the individual poses little or no security risk. Prohibits any funds from being used to transfer or release such an individual to the country of such individual's nationality or last residence, or to any country other than the United States, unless the President submits to Congress, at least 15 days prior to such release or transfer: (1) the name of the individual and the country involved; (2) an assessment of the risk to U.S. national security posed by the transfer or release, as well as actions taken to mitigate such risk; and (3) the terms of any agreement with another country for the acceptance of such individual, including any financial assistance related to the agreement. Directs the President, prior to termination of detention operations at Guantanamo Bay, to report to Congress describing the disposition or legal status of each individual detained there." ( H.R.2346, Roll Call Vote #348: Passed 226-202: R 5-170; D 221-32; 6/16/09)

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller Said That Relocating Guantanamo Prisoners To The United States "Could Pose A Number Of Risks." "FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress on Wednesday that bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States could pose a number of risks, even if they were kept in maximum-security prisons. . . . 'The concerns we have about individuals who may support terrorism being in the United States run from concerns about providing financing, radicalizing others,' Mueller said, as well as 'the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States.' … All of those are relevant concerns, Mueller said." ("FBI Chief Worried About Gitmo Detainees In U.S.," The Associated Press, 5/20/09)


In An August 2010 White House Meeting, Clinton Chastised White House Aides, Saying "We Are Throwing The President's Commitment To Close Guantánamo Into The Trash Bin. … We Are Doing Him A Disservice By Not Working Harder On This." "One of those occasions was at a White House meeting of Obama's national-security principals in August 2010. 'We are throwing the president's commitment to close Guantánamo into the trash bin,' she chastised White House aides, according to three participants in the meeting. 'We are doing him a disservice by not working harder on this.'" (Daniel Klaidman, "How Gitmo Imprisoned Obama," Newsweek, 5/15/13)

Right Before Clinton Stepped Down As Secretary Of State, She Gave Obama A Two-Page Memo With "Practical Suggestions For Moving Ahead On Gitmo." "One recent plea, two sources told Newsweek, came from Hillary Clinton, who, just before she left office in January 2013, sent a two-page confidential memo to Obama about Guantánamo. Clinton had, during her years in the administration, occasionally jumped into the fray to push her colleagues to do more on the issue… But at the end of the day, Clinton had little leverage to get the White House to act. Now, in one of her last moves as secretary of State, she was making a final effort to prod her boss to do more. Her memo was replete with practical suggestions for moving ahead on Gitmo." (Daniel Klaidman, "How Gitmo Imprisoned Obama," Newsweek, 5/15/13)

  • "[Clinton] Was Making A Final Effort To Prod Her Boss To Do More." "But at the end of the day, Clinton had little leverage to get the White House to act. Now, in one of her last moves as secretary of State, she was making a final effort to prod her boss to do more." (Daniel Klaidman, "How Gitmo Imprisoned Obama," Newsweek, 5/15/13)

In The Memo, Clinton Urged Obama To Appoint A High-Level Official To Be In Charge Of Closing Guantanamo And To Use "National-Security Waivers" So He Could Bypass Congress. "Her memo was replete with practical suggestions for moving ahead on Gitmo. Chief among them: Obama needed to appoint a high-level official to be in charge of the effort, someone who had clout and proximity to the Oval Office. Further, Clinton argued that Obama could start transferring the 86 detainees who'd already been cleared for release. (Congress has imposed onerous restrictions on the administration's ability to transfer Gitmo detainees-including a stipulation that the secretary of Defense certify that detainees sent to other countries would not engage in acts of terrorism. In her memo, Clinton pointed out that the administration could use 'national-security waivers' to circumvent the restriction.)" (Daniel Klaidman, "How Gitmo Imprisoned Obama," Newsweek, 5/15/13)

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