February 23, 2016 5:45 PM
Today, President Obama spoke at the White House on his plan to shutdown the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The Department of Defense will submit a 4-point plan to Congress that includes finding a facility in the U.S. to hold any remaining detainees.
Several members of our Georgia congressional delegation have sent us their reaction to the President’s decision. They argue that this is a major threat to our national security, as well as illegal after Obama signed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act into law at the end of 2015, explicitly prohibiting the President from transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to American soil.
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released this statement shortly after the President’s announcement:
“I strongly oppose the president’s proposal to close Guantanamo Bay prison and bring hardened terrorists to the United States. President Obama’s casual disregard for our nation’s safety in the interest of political convenience has already come at too high a cost. Not only is this plan irresponsible and dangerous, it’s against the law. At the end of 2015, President Obama himself signed a bill into law that specifically prohibits the action his administration has announced today.
“Recent transfers of prisoners at Guantanamo have made the world less stable and send the wrong message to those who wish to terrorize free people. Our military leaders have deemed many of these prisoners too dangerous to send to other countries. We certainly don’t need them on American soil. I will fight against this decision because the interests and safety of Americans should come ahead of any political move that seeks to do otherwise.”
In agreement with Isakson is U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA):
“President Obama continues to put campaign promises ahead of national security. First, against the advice of military leaders, President Obama abruptly ended the war in Iraq which created a vacuum for ISIS, and now he wants to close Guantanamo Bay, the very prison used to detain terrorists. Americans will not stand the thought of placing terrorists on U.S. soil, and the transfer of detainees to other countries does not erase the threat of their continued extremist actions. This plan from the Pentagon places our citizens at unacceptable—and completely avoidable—levels of risk.”
From Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (GA-01):
“The Obama administration’s announcement today proves the White House is willing to jeopardize the national security of the United States for a campaign promise. The detainees he hopes to bring to American soil are the worst of the worst. Not only is this unacceptable, President Obama’s own Attorney General and military leaders have said it is illegal to bring detainees from the facility at Guantanamo to the United States. Instead of continuing to underestimate the threat of radical Islamic terrorists and focusing on relocating or releasing these jihadist enemies, the President should be focused on destroying the threat to our homeland. He is living in an alternate universe if he believes released detainees will not return to the battlefield as many before them already have. This plan, which fails to include critical details like the exact location of where the detainees will be transferred, will do nothing more than increase this very real threat against the safety of our nation and it will not stand.”
This statement was also released from Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03), who serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on NSA and Cybersecurity on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and on the House Select Committee on Benghazi:
“While President Obama is focused on ‘closing the chapter’ of Guantanamo Bay for political reasons, my focus is solely on our protecting and enhancing our national security.
“Congress passed a law back in November – that the President himself signed – prohibiting the President from transferring Guantanamo prisoners to American soil. With the growing threat of ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism, we cannot jeopardize our safety by bringing terrorists to the homeland.
“If the President was serious about defeating radical Islamic terrorism, not only would he keep Guantanamo open, he would stop releasing terrorists back to the Middle East to fight against our own troops. I look forward to the leadership of a new, republican Commander in Chief who puts the security of our nation, its citizens, and interests abroad first.”
Congressman Tom Price (GA-6) said the following via Facebook:
President Obama is trying once again to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and move many of these dangerous terrorists to American soil. Here are the facts: Congress has passed and the president has signed into law specific prohibitions against transferring these terrorist to our homeland and/or building facilities here to house them. Meanwhile, according to a September 2015 report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, of the 653 Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainees that have left the facility, 117 are “confirmed” and 79 are “suspected of reengaging” in “terrorist or insurgent activities.” The safety of the American people is more important than any political promise the president may have made.
Congressman Jody Hice (GA-10) released this statement via press release:
“With today’s announcement that he will seek to fulfill an ill-advised campaign pledge by closing GTMO, the President has again demonstrated his unwillingness to listen to the American people. Unfortunately, this time it comes at the expense of our national security. Transferring GTMO detainees to United States soil is a clear violation of the very law the President himself signed last November. Having already released 147 detainees — including many who have rejoined the fight against us — this is not the policy we should be pursuing. The safety and security of our communities and our Nation are what is important — not the President’s misguided attempts to build his legacy.”
Guantanamo Bay has been continually emptying out over the years, with 17 detainees transferred last month, and 91 remaining at the facility overall.