Friday, September 18, 2009

Bill could block Gitmo closure

A bill could make it impossible for Obama to move any Guantanamo prisoners to the U.S. for any reason.

The walls of the prison at Guantanamo Bay are pictured.A bill that could go to the Senate floor as early as next week would make it impossible for President Barack Obama to move any Guantanamo prisoners to the U.S. for any reason, effectively blocking his plan to close the facility by January.

The bar on all such transfers was written into the Senate version of the Defense appropriations bill passed by the Appropriations Committee last week and is stricter than current law, which allows prisoners to be brought to the United States for trial as long as Congress is notified 45 days in advance of any potential risks.

The language, proposed by Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), underscores the impatience many senators from both parties feel over the White House's failure to settle on a site or a legal framework to detain prisoners who would have to leave Guantanamo in order to meet Obama's January deadline.

The Senate panel also omitted any money to close Guantanamo or build a new facility.

"We have not provided funding for the closure of Guantanamo, because the administration has yet to produce a credible plan," Inouye said.

"The Obama administration can't close Guantanamo without bringing some detainees to the United States, and Congress's actions show that the political price of doing so will be high," said Columbia Law professor Matthew Waxman, who worked on detainee issues at the Defense and State Departments under the Bush Administration. "Meanwhile, in emphatically barring transfers to the U.S., Congress undermines the administration's efforts to get other countries to take them."

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