White House: Obama would veto House bill blocking Guantanamo transfers

White House: Obama would veto House bill blocking Guantanamo transfers

By Loree Lewis   
Published
A Humvee from the Puerto Rico Army National Guard's, 480th Military Police Company, patrols the perimeter of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, Oct. 7. (Photo: Flickr / The U.S. Army)

The proposed bill would choke off all federal funding to move Guantanamo detainees.

 WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – The White House issued a veto threat Tuesday for a bill in the House of Representatives that would effectively prohibit the transfer any of the remaining detainees from the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba military prison to the U.S. or another country.

Rep. Jackie Walorski’s (R-Ind.) introduced a bill that would “seek to foreclose entirely the executive branch’s ability to determine appropriate disposition options for detainees, including to transfer them consistent with our national security and our humane treatment policy,” the White House said.

The proposed bill would choke off all federal funding to move Guantanamo detainees until either Jan. 1 or the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) becomes law, whichever comes first.

Under U.S. law, outlined in the 2016 NDAA, the Defense Department can use federal funds to transfer eligible detainees to most countries. Funds cannot be used to bring inmates to the U.S. or its territories, to modify or construct facilities in the U.S. to house detainees or move inmates to Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Libya — which are seen as areas of active hostilities and instability.

The bill is set to be voted on this week in the House. If it passed through the lower chamber, it would face a tough battle in the Senate where Democrats have greater sway.

Obama said last week that with fewer than fourth months left of his presidency, he’s “not ready to concede” that Guantanamo will remain open when he leaves office “because we’re still working diligently to continue to shrink the population.”

At the military prison 61 detainees are living there, down from 242 when Obama took office after promising to shutter the facility while campaigning in 2008.

“I continue to believe that Guantanamo is a recruitment tool for terrorist organizations, that it clouds and sours some of the counterterrorism cooperation that we need to engage in. And it’s not necessary and it’s hugely expensive for U.S. taxpayers,” Obama said last week while in Laos.

Of the 61 still in the facility, 20 people have been approved for transfer. All of the 61 have had initial reviews by Guantanamo’s parole-like board, and 31 will continue to be held whether under the law of war detention or while their cases are still reviewed. The remaining 10 detainees are in the midst of prosecution in military commission proceedings.

The military said last week that the detention center would close down one of its camps, converting it into a new prison clinic and psychiatric ward, The Miami Herald reported. The detention center will also reportedly shrink its of more that 1,950 troops and civilians by 400 soldiers by year’s end.

Both major presidential candidates have presented opposing views for the future of the facility. Democrat Hillary Clinton, who served as Secretary of State under Obama, has said she’d like to see the facility closed and detainees not eligible for transfer to another country, moved to a site within the U.S. Republican Donald Trump has said he intends to keep the facility open, and “load it up with bad dudes.”

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