House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon made the following statement Tuesday regarding President Barack Obama’s press conference assertion that congress is preventing his administration from closing the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“The President faces bipartisan opposition to closing Guantanamo Bay’s detention center because he has offered no alternative plan regarding the detainees there, nor a plan for future terrorist captures. For years, Congress has encouraged the President to develop a comprehensive detention policy. In the Administration’s failure to do so, they have removed lawful options from our counterterrorism arsenal.”
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In a broad-ranging press conference Tuesday, President Obama said he is still committed to finding an alternative to the use of Guantanamo for the detention of terror suspects. “I continue to believe that we’ve got to close Guantanamo,” Obama said at the press briefing. “It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us, in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.”
Obama implied that Republicans have worked to block his administration’s efforts to deal with the Guantanamo problem. “I’m going to…examine every option that we have administratively to try to deal with this issue, but ultimately we’re also going to need some help from Congress,” he said.
“Congress has not been idle on detention issues,”McKeon replied. “For the past two years, our Committee has worked with our Senate counterparts to ensure that the certifications necessary to transfer detainees overseas are reasonable. The Administration has never certified a single transfer. Contrary to what President Obama has implied, there are no restrictions on releasing detainees who have won their habeas cases in federal court.”
In 2011, McKeon proposed legislation that would permanently block funding for the creation or renovation of any facility in the continental United States to house detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay.
“America needs and deserves a careful and comprehensive plan dealing with law of war detention for terrorists,” McKeon said at the time. “While our country cannot detain our way out of the threats we face, law of war detention is a critical tool necessary to neutralize terrorists and obtain valuable intelligence.
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Source: Santa Clarita News