As expected, Republicans have come out and trashed the Obama administration’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay and transfer detainees to a U.S. facility.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday he assumed Congress would react negatively the plan as it seems politically repulsive to Republicans. While touting millions in savings, the plan does not actually list a specific facility to store hardened terrorist detainees.
But the reactions are coming out fast. Legislators have leveled a spectrum of objections. Some, like House Committee on Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, don’t even believe what the administration has presented constitutes a plan at all.
Thornberry stated that what the administration submitted Tuesday morning “is no substitute for the legally-required detainee plan the President must submit to Congress. That plan is now overdue.”
GOP Sen. Tom Cotton believes that despite administration pretensions that closing the facility would boost national security, in reality, the plan is “nothing short of a national security disaster.”
Cotton said that the plan is essentially “dead on arrival” as far as the Senate is concerned, and also added the administration does not possess the legal authority to move unilaterally on this issue.
“Releasing Guantanamo terrorists to other countries and bringing them to our shores is unlawful, unnecessary, and dangerous,” said Cotton.
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz called the plan to move detainees to U.S. soil a mistake. Chaffetz thrashed the administration for throwing away security and pursuing ideologically-driven ends.
“Having visited the prison myself, I believe Guantanamo is the best location to hold those who pose a grave threat to our nation. The president’s alternative is dangerous and makes our country less safe. With this plan, President Obama is prioritizing politics over security.”
House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte said bringing detainees to the U.S. may jeopardize the safety of Americans.
“The Obama Administration thinks enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay deemed too dangerous for release to foreign countries should be brought to the U.S.,” Goodlatte said in a statement. “This is an untested plan that contains untold implications for Americans’ safety and the United States’ security.”
Goodlatte’s fear is not so much that the detainees will be able to break out the facility of their own efforts, but that there still is a possibility they may be released and injected straight into the heart of American communities.
“This Administration has a long history of releasing criminal aliens into our communities instead of deporting them, and these enemy combatants would be the most dangerous yet,” Goodlatte said. “This is one of the reasons why these terrorists have been held outside the country. Enemy combatants should remain outside of the United States where they can be detained away from our communities and without needlessly jeopardizing the safety and security of the American people.”
GOP Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, said it’s not so much a plan as it is a “vague menu of options” and certainly does not issue any clear policy guidance on how future detainees should be detained and stored.
“After years of rhetoric, the President has still yet to say how and where he will house both current and future detainees, including those his Administration has deemed as too dangerous to release,” McCain said. “Rather than identify specific answers to those difficult questions, the President has essentially passed the buck to the Congress.”
Both the Senate and House Committees on Armed Services will hold hearings on the plan.
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