The Obama administration is committed to only detaining high-level Islamic State officials in the short-term, but a group of senators wants them placed in Guantanamo Bay, the facility the White House thinks should be closed down.
GOP Sen. Steve Daines brought 14 other senators on board with the resolution following the announcement U.S. special operators captured the head of ISIS’s chemical weapons development program. Daines and Sens. Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jim Inhohfe and others, think the appropriate place for Sleiman Daoud al-Afari is none other than Gitmo.
Now that special operators are conducting serious ground operations in Iraq, the number of ISIS officials captured will almost certainly increase. The current plan is to detain them temporarily in Iraq and then once interrogation is finished, release them to Iraqi or Kurdish authorities. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of Special Operations Command, recently told Congress a long-term storage operations is necessary, though following the announcement of the capture of al-Afari, Department of Defense officials said they will only seek short-term detention at most.
Daines does not believe either Iraqi or Kurdish authorities are capable of holding these high-value, high-risk detainees securely or responsibly.
“These dangerous individuals do not belong on U.S. soil, or in the custody of a nation that may allow them to return to the battlefield as we have seen before,” Daines said in a statement. “We must ensure they don’t continue to spread radical Islam throughout the world, and Guantanamo Bay serves an integral purpose for just that.”
The resolution states that given the ongoing war between the U.S. and ISIS and given special forces will almost certainly seize more detainees, the correct place to store them is Gitmo.
“With tens of thousands of fighters and the capability to make false passports for infiltrating refugee flows into Europe and the United States, ISIS poses a clear danger to American citizens,” GOP Sen. Mark Kirk stated. “No other facility can house terrorists as securely as Guantanamo, which is where we should be sending ISIS terrorists when they are captured by our brave servicemen and servicewomen in the field.”
The Obama administration remains committed to releasing as many detainees as it possibly can and shipping the remaining prisoners who require indefinite detention to a facility somewhere in the U.S. Congress recently received a plan from the administration that provided a litany of possible storage locations, which legislators balked at, since they have repeatedly requested the plan include only one proposed location and specific costs associated with establishing a facility at that location. White House officials have committed to waiting to see what Congress does with the plan, but because these same officials have alienated virtually all Republican support, it will not be well-received.
The White House has refused to explicitly disclaim the possibility of using unilateral executive authority to close the facility if Congress fails to embrace its plans for Gitmo.
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