President Barack Obama thinks he has figured out a way to signthe annual defense budget bill, while still allowing some amount ofroom to evade provisions blocking the transfer of detainees to theUnited States.
After he signed the $607 billion bill Wednesday, which hepreviously vetoed, Obama issued a statement saying the ban ontransferring detainees to U.S. soil either for trial or detentionblocks the push to close the facility, which in turn impedescounterterrorism, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Obama said in a statement he is “deeply disappointed thatthe Congress has again failed to take productive action towardclosing the detention facility at Guantanamo.”
In other words, the White House believes the restrictions areunconstitutional restrictions on executive power. Nevertheless, theWhite House still plans to submit a closure plan to Congress in thecoming weeks as required by the newly signedÂ NationalDefense Authorization Act, but many members like GOP Sen. JohnMcCain are skeptical, given endless delays. (RELATED: White House Says Gitmo Closure Plan IsDelayed).
The prospective plan is already taking heat since there arereports it may present multiple sub-plans to Congress. Legislatorslike McCain insist the plan is the only option for closure toCongress.
McCain is also pledgingÂ that if the White Housemoves forward to unilaterally close Gitmo, Congress will sue.(RELATED: McCain: Iâ€™ll Sue Obama If He Tries ToClose Gitmo With Executive Action)
Only 107 detainees remain in Guantanamo Bay. Obama promised toclose the facility during his first year in office, but he has beenthwarted every step of the way, including from his ownadministration.
Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel resigned in part overexcessive pressure from the White House to empty the facility.Current Secretary of Defense Ash Carter faced similar allegations,though in every case, he has affirmed he stands with the WhiteHouse. Congress has thrown up roadblocks at every turn, and manycountries declined to cooperate with the United States by acceptingdetainees. While there is some dispute on the exact recidivismfigure, it is high enough to cause concern among receivingcountries.
One of the administrationâ€™s central claims isthat the continued existence of the facility functions as adevastating recruitment tactic for radicals. But the administrationdoesnâ€™t plan to close the endeavor entirely. Infact, the administration plans to indefinitely detain 49 radicals,placing the initial justification for ending Gitmo on shakygrounds.