The House of Representatives on Wednesday put a major roadblock in the way of any efforts President Barack Obama might make in the closing months of his term to release detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
By a voice vote, the House passed an amendment to a defense spending bill that prevents detainees form being transferred to other countries. Congress already has in place a ban that keeps Obama from shifting “Gitmo” detainees to American locations.
The fate of the House amendment is unclear. The Senate has yet to take up the bill, and the White House has issued rumblings of a possible veto of the bill.
The Gitmo facility was created by the administration of former President George W. Bush as a place to house suspected terrorists. There are currently 80 detainees at Gitmo; 28 of whom have been scheduled to be transferred this summer to other countries. However, Pentagon officials have indicated that at least 12 former detainees have participated in terrorist attacks that have killed at least six Americans.
“This president has shown that he is willing to transfer them to other places where the risk of them escaping back to the battlefield is very high,” said Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., who sponsored the amendment. “At this time, I believe we can’t risk that.”
“The bottom line here is the folks that are left at Guantanamo are the worst of the worst,” Hudson said. “These are some of the most violent, dangerous criminals in the world.”
Hudson noted that the massacre of 49 people Sunday by a terrorist who pledged loyalty to ISIS is a reminder of what’s at stake in the debate.
“The war on terror is an ongoing battle against evil and we must remain vigilant,” Hudson said. “We must take every action necessary to block the president’s plan to close Guantanamo.”
Not everyone supported the proposal.
“That has to be unconstitutional,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. “What it says is, even if you find that an individual is innocent, even if you factually find out he’s guilty of no terrorism, he didn’t fight against us, he’s not a prisoner of war, he’s guilty of nothing – he must stay in jail forever.”
h/t: Washington Post