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Obama Vs. His AG On Legality Of Closing GITMO, Bringing Terrorists To U.S. Soil

- February 24, 2016

Today, Attorney General Loretta Lynch Acknowledged That Federal Funds Cannot Be Used To Transfer GITMO Detainees To U.S. Soil. REP. JOHN CULBERSON: "Madame Attorney General, there's been a lot of concern expressed by our constituents and citizens across the country about a proposal just released yesterday, that the Department of Defense released to close a military detention facility at the U.S. naval station at Guantanamo Bay that at present holds 91 detainees and as you know in the fiscal year 2016 the appropriations act for the Department of Justice it includes two very provisions that prohibit funds from being used to transfer, release or assist the transfer of detainees to the United States or its territories and that prohibits the Department of Justice from acquiring, building or modifying an facility in the U.S. or its territories to house those detainees. And I just wanted to ask, to make sure, reassure the country and the Congress, would you agree that the federal government is prohibited from establishing such facilities and from transferring Guantanamo detainees into the United States or its territories?" ATTORNEY GENERAL LORETTA LYNCH: "Thank you Mr. Chairman, certainly that is the state of the law most recently passed in the NDAA and certainly as it respects the department's appropriations, we also do not participate in any efforts to do so." (Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Remarks At House Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing, 2/24/16)

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Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest Refused To Admit That Closing GITMO Without Congressional Authorization Isn't "Against The Law." ABC's JONATHAN KARL: "Wait a minute; I don't understand how you can say you're not willing to rule that out. It's against the law, the law says, as I think you just said from the podium and certainly the Attorney General of the United States said in congressional testimony, and in fact the Defense Secretary said just last month in congressional testimony, it is against the law to move those detainees to the United States. So, unless you're going to just let them all go, how could you close down that prison?" WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JOSH EARNEST: "Well first of all, nobody is talking about letting them all go. We put forth a very specific plan for how these individuals will either be safely transferred to other countries, how they can go through a criminal justice process, or how they can be safely incarcerated here in the United States. That is a cost effective plan that is consistent with our national security interest…Again what I have seen is the plan that we have put forward, actually lay out what our argument is, reflects the facts. It reflects the facts that we can save money by doing it in the way that we've outlined and it reflects the need to protect our national security and we're interested in a serious conversation with Congress about this. Look, there is this emerging trend in Congress that has worsened in just the last few weeks, where Congress isn't simply in a position of just saying no, Congress is actually refusing to engage. There not just actively saying no, they're refusing to do the basic function of their job. They're refusing to consider this specific GITMO plan, they're refusing to even consider the President's nominee to the Supreme Court, they're refusing to even take action on any sort of AUMF and they've refused to even convene a hearing to discuss the President's budget with the President's budget director, something that has happened every year for the last 40 years. So, I'm not really sure what they're doing in Congress, they're doing just about everything except for fulfilling their basic constitutional responsibilities." KARL: "But on this case Congress actually has acted, and they've acted repeatedly, they've acted to vote in a bi-partisan fashion to say 'no,' they don't want detainees from Guantanamo Bay brought to the United States. So, I'm asking you if they don't ask on this, if they approve this plan that you've just outlined, can the President still close that detention facility before he leaves office? Can he still do it?" EARNEST: "John, Congress specifically requested this plan on this timeframe and we have provided it to them. So again, they're going to have to decide if they actually want to take a look at this. What they have done thus far, is put in place barriers that have prevented the administration from moving forward in this way. But, by putting those barriers in place they have led us down the path of a policy that waste tax payer dollars and makes the United States of America more vulnerable to terrorist's organizations." KARL: "If those barriers remain in place can you still close that facility, yes or no?" EARNEST: "Well, the President himself has considered this question and what he has said publicly is that our focus is going to be on working with Congress and working with Congress requires presenting them with a specific plan on the time frame that they asked for. That's exactly what we've done and now were asking for Congress to give it fair consideration and I'm not going to speculate at this point if Congress refuses to do that." (White House Press Briefing, 2/23/116)

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