White House Doesn't Deny Report of Executive Action to Close Gitmo; GOP Lawmakers Pounce
GOP lawmakers decried as "outrageous" a report that President Obama is planning to override a ban passed by Congress on relocating Guantanamo Bay detainees to the U.S. in order to shut down the prison facility.
Some of those prisoners could come to the Naval brig at Hanahan, South Carolina.
"I have yet to see any plans or studies that show that transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to South Carolina or any other domestic location will make America safer," Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) said. "We are talking about some of the most dangerous terrorists in the world, including planners of September 11th and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. They should stay right where they are – in cells at the prison on Guantanamo Bay, far away from our schools and families."
"It is also outrageous that this administration is reportedly preparing to once again circumvent Congress for its own political goals. The president may be searching for a way to keep a campaign promise, but perhaps he should take a look at the reality of the situation."
Scott pointed out a summer Gallup poll that shows Americans consistently opposing the closure of Gitmo and relocation of detainees to the U.S. Just 29 percent think that should happen, while 66 percent oppose the detainees coming to American soil.
"Congress passed a bipartisan law barring the transfer of detainees to the United States," Scott said. "If the administration attempts to push this idea forward it will meet serious opposition, period.”
Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) noted that "as terrorists behead innocent Americans and civilians abroad, the only message we need to be sending our enemies right now is that we’re coming after them, not bringing them into our backyards."
“The president’s number one responsibility should be ensuring the safety of the American people and supporting our men and women in uniform, not trying to make good on an ill-conceived campaign promise simply to mollify far left donors and energize his base before an election," Cornyn said.
Obama is on the West Coast fundraising today, and White House spokesman Eric Schultz brushed off a direct response to the Wall Street Journal story in speaking with reporters outside the first event at the home of restaurateur Michael Chow.
“I can say that this is something important to the president, important to the administration, and something we are constantly working with Democrats and Republicans in Congress over,” Schultz said.
“For many years now we have always looked at options to do this,” he added. “Our position right now, our policy right now, is seeking support from Congress to lift the restrictions which we feel are misguided.”
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said “closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is a fanciful idea but importing vicious terrorists onto the United States mainland and giving them legal protections reserved for American citizens has been consistently rejected by bipartisan majorities in Congress who have worked together legally to prohibit the president from doing so."
“The president’s stubborn naïveté distracts from ongoing threats to American national security and highlights the failures of his foreign policy agenda," Foxx said. "As House Republicans continue our tireless pursuit of accountability, the president should immediately abandon any ill-conceived plans to bring dangerous terrorists to the American homeland.”