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Obama-Clinton Plan To Close Gitmo Has Received Bipartisan Opposition

- October 2, 2015

Today, It Was Reported That The Obama Administration Is Considering Housing Gitmo Detainees In The United States

Today, It Was Reported That A Defense Department Team Is Traveling To The Colorado Supermax Facility To Assess Its Ability To House Gitmo Detainees As Part Of The Obama Administration's Plan To Close The Facility. "Senior U.S. officials say a Defense Department team will be visiting a state and a federal prison in Colorado to assess their possible use to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of the Obama administration's plan to close that detention center. Officials say that within the next two weeks the team will visit the Colorado State Penitentiary in Canon City and the so-called Supermax federal prison in Florence." ("US To Review Colorado Prisons For Guantanamo Detainees," The Associated Press, 10/2/15)

The Team Has Also Surveyed Fort Leavenworth In Kansas And The Naval Consolidated Brig In South Carolina. "The Pentagon team has also surveyed the Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. The reviews assess construction costs and other changes needed to house the detainees and conduct military commission trials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the visits publicly." ("US To Review Colorado Prisons For Guantanamo Detainees," The Associated Press, 10/2/15)

Previous Attempts To Relocate Gitmo Prisoners Into The United States Have Been Met With Strong Bipartisan Opposition

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)

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)

As Secretary Of State, Clinton Urged The President And His Aides To Work Harder On Closing The Guantanamo Bay Facility, Proposed Waivers To Bypass Congress

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 President 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." (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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