By Jonah Bennett
The U.S. military has confirmed it will not cooperate with the Obama administration if the White House tries to circumvent Congress by unilaterally closing down Guantanamo Bay and transferring detainees to U.S. soil.
This stance was confirmed in a letter to Congress from Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr., director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the letter, Mayville struck back against the idea that the White House has the authority to dodge Congress and use funds to shut down the facility and release hardened detainees requiring indefinite detention to some designated area in the U.S.
“Current law prohibits the use of funds to ‘transfer, release or assist in the transfer or release’ of detainees of Guantanamo Bay to or within the United States, and prohibits the construction, modification or acquisition of any facility within the United States to house any Guantanamo detainee. The Joint Staff will not take any action contrary to those restrictions,” Mayville wrote in a letter obtained by Bloomberg.
Mayville said this even though he ultimately agrees with the administration that the facility needs to closed down. The difference, then, is in regard to the means by which this end is accomplished.
Obama has dodged issuing a firm stance on whether he’d rely on executive authority to close down Gitmo, saying in December, “We will wait until Congress has definitively said no to a well-thought-out plan with numbers attached to it before we say anything definitive about my executive authority here.”
The plan has been delayed for countless months, but the Obama administration has finally received a proposal from Defense Secretary Ash Carter. That plan will soon head before Congress, though it is unlikely to curry much favor from Republicans, who have blocked the administration’s attempt to shutter the facility every step of the way.
There are a total of 91 detainees left in Gitmo. Of that amount, 59 are not deemed eligible for transfer due to the danger they present. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is a prime example of a detainee too dangerous to release into the wild.
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