As Speaker Ryan said earlier today, “[President Obama’s] proposal fails to provide critical details requierd by law, including the exact cost and location of an alternate detention facility.” It’s actually rather remarkable that seven years after making a campaign promise to close the prison, the president is still unable or unwilling to specify exactly where he’d keep the dangerous terrorists currently held at Guantanamo. Reuters speculates that “The administration wants to avoid fueling any political outcry over specific sites during a U.S. presidential election year.” That’s exactly the problem here—this plan is more politics than substance, and it fails to satisfy the requirements mandated by Congress.
In announcing the plan, President Obama argued that “There was bipartisan support to close [Guantanamo].” Not exactly. A bipartisan majority in Congress has, year after year, reaffirmed restrictions on transferring Guantanamo prisoners to American soil. These provisions were first included in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a Democrat-led Congress in 2009. In fact, the most recent NDAA passed with 370 votes in the House and 91 votes in the Senate before President Obama himself signed it into law. The president is attempting to make this a partisan issue by seeking to contradict the will of the American people and their elected representatives.
And this brings us to our third point: This plan demonstrates the president’s misguided priorities. It represents nothing more than another attempt to fulfill a campaign promise and distract from the administration’s failure to defeat ISIS. Perhaps this explains why the administration missed a separate congressionally mandated deadline last week for a plan to counter radical Islamic extremism, but was on time with this incomplete Guantanamo proposal. Ultimately, this plan is not safe. The American people do not want Gitmo terrorists in their backyard—and for good reason. Congress is going to uphold its promise that any plan that seeks to transfer these dangerous war criminals onto U.S. soil is dead on arrival.