Earlier this month, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced it was transferring the largest group of detainees, 15, from Guantanamo Bay Naval Base or GTMO to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). That should have been a big clue leading into Vice President Joe Biden’s comments about Obama’s plans to close GTMO by January before he leaves office.
Guantanamo Bay was established back in 2002 as a prison camp to detain “extraordinarily dangerous people, to interrogate detainees and then prosecute detainees for war crimes.
H/T The Hill:
Since Obama was elected, his mission has been to shut down the military base and center for detainees.
You may even remember President Obama issued a Presidential memorandum dated 15 December 2009, ordering Thomson Correctional Center, Thomson, Illinois to be prepared to accept transferred Guantanamo prisoners.
I guess the detainees were “extremely dangerous” but not too dangerous for those Americans living in Illinois.
Obama has promised to close the controversial facility in Cuba, but opposition from Congress has repeatedly blocked his attempts, leaving the detainees’ fates unclear.
The earlier transfer of 15 detainees, the DOD’s largest so far, reduced the prisoner population at Guantánamo Bay to 61.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, meanwhile, said earlier this month that he would keep the facility open if he wins the presidential election. He also said recently he would try Americans accused of terrorism at the U.S. military base in Cuba.
In a story from Roll Call:
“The president is still aiming to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay by the end of his term,” Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday. He reiterated those intentions on Wednesday. Earnest said there are still 61 prisoners at Guantanamo, including 20 who have been cleared for transfer to other countries. – See more at: http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/bidens-expectation-is-obama-will-close-gitmo-prison#sthash.ZG66IEAl.dpuf
Asked if Obama was considering using his executive powers to close the prison, a White House official said the administration still preferred a legislative approach.
“We want to see the detention facility at Guantanamo closed, and we have submitted a plan to Congress for doing so,” the official said. “Our priority remains working with Congress to get this done.”
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott was among the Republicans who promptly reacted to Biden’s comments. He made his views clear on Twitter with a one-word tweet: “Nope.”
And GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has been a leading critic of shuttering the detention center and led an effort to force the Pentagon to release details about remaining detainees, said Thursday that transferring prisoners to the mainland would go against the intent of Congress.
“Contrary to what this administration has repeatedly asserted, emptying and closing Guantanamo Bay would make our country less safe — and if they have to transfer these dangerous terrorists to the United States in order to empty the facility, that would be a blatant and serious violation of the plain language of the law,” the New Hampshire senator said.
Obama was the first sitting president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge – that should tell you all you need to know. Castro and his family are still in charge and as long as they stay in charge, you can expect the same results.
Closing Gitmo would bring a whole new story: “Obama and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”.