Obama takes swipe at Congress over Guantanamo
December 26th, 2013
05:25 PM ET
8 years ago

Obama takes swipe at Congress over Guantanamo

(CNN) - President Barack Obama used his signing Thursday of the 2014 Defense Authorization Act to take a swipe at Congress for continuing to impede his efforts at closing the detention facility at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“Since taking office, I have repeatedly called upon the Congress to work with my Administration to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,” Obama said in a statement. “The continued operation of the facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists.”

Closing the facility was a longtime campaign pledge of Obama and an attempt to do so was one of his first official acts as President. Five years later, the facility remains open with about 160 prisoners remaining, thanks to repeated congressional opposition to transfer detainees to other countries or try them on American soil.

U.S. releases names of ‘indefinite detainees’ at Guantanamo

Congressional opposition to transferring detainees owes to a fear that transferred prisoners would attempt to attack the United States. More than 80 prisoners have been cleared to return to their native countries, most to Yemen.

“Earlier this year I again called upon the Congress to lift these restrictions and, in this bill, the Congress has taken a positive step in that direction,” Obama said, pointing to a section of the bill that allows his administration additional flexibility to negotiate transfers with foreign countries.

However, Obama said, the bill does not “eliminate all of the unwarranted limitations on foreign transfers,” and continues to block efforts to transfer detainees to facilities in the domestic United States.

“I oppose these provisions, as I have in years past, and will continue to work with the Congress to remove these restrictions,” Obama said, arguing that the limitations unconstitutionally undermine his authority.

“The executive branch must have the authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees, based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests,” he said.

First Guantanamo commander calls for prison to be closed

The President noted that various administrations have successfully prosecuted hundreds of terrorists in domestic American courts over the years.

“Those prosecutions are a legitimate, effective, and powerful tool in our efforts to protect the Nation,” Obama said. “Removing that tool from the executive branch does not serve our national security interests.”

Now more than 10 years old, Guantanamo found its way back into the headlines earlier this year after more than 100 of the prisoners staged a prolonged hunger strike.


Filed under: Guantanamo • Guantanamo Bay • President Obama
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. just asking

    Obama said in a statement. “The continued operation of the facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists.”
    --

    obama's drone strikes also do this. is he going to stop them? no.

    many that have been released from gitmo have returned to their terrorists ways. if obama wants to release them, how about we set up some aq halfway houses in his old neighborhood in chicago? or maybe nyc? any place that is very blue because obama and the democrats seem far more concerned with releasing terrorists than they do about protecting american lives.

    December 26, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Congressional opposition to transferring detainees owes to a fear that transferred prisoners would attempt to attack the United States"

    No. Wrong again, CNN. The "fear that transferred prisoners would attempt to attack" the US is just the thin veil the demagogues throw over the fact that Gitmo's continued existence is vital to their perpetuation of (a) the fear of being attacked in general and (b) the racist/bigoted nonsense it stirred up against Muslims and the use they are able to make of it during elections. It's another petulant way to win points with the conservative base by obstructing Obama from doing anything he says he wants to do and to keep the "war mentality" alive amongst the base and whoever else they can keep scared enough. They'll yammer incessantly about drone attacks causing collateral damage in the form of innocent bystanders, but when it comes to upholding our own values with respect to people being innocent until proven guilty and that convictions require proof requires evidence and that all men are equal and deserve the right to a trial, etc., well, that's just inconvenient at the moment.

    December 26, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  3. ora pike

    obama lies to us so what do you call someone-who continues to lie????? YOU CAN KEEP-IT WAS THE VIDEO-NOBODY TOLD ME--NOBODY TOLD SUSAN RICE TO LIE?????

    December 26, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  4. Donna

    I say we release them all. One third in Nancy Pelosi's home district, one third in Harry Reid's state of Nevada and the other third in Obama old Chicago neighborhood. Since they are so harmless, I'm sure Obama, Reid and Pelosi would have absolutely no problem with this solution.

    December 26, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  5. smith

    I agree with Pres. Obama lets close it down. We should just drone strike terrorist from now on. Who cares if innocent people die. Why try and get intel from these people just drone em`.

    December 26, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  6. Tommy G

    A firing squad for every one of them. Then release the bodies to whoever wants them. Problem solved.

    December 26, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  7. Tampa Tim

    Donna – there is a maximum security prison (state of the art and vacant) in Illinois, but the republicans are afraid.

    December 26, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "I say we release them all. One third in Nancy Pelosi's home district, one third in Harry Reid's state of Nevada and the other third in Obama old Chicago neighborhood. Since they are so harmless, I'm sure Obama, Reid and Pelosi would have absolutely no problem with this solution."

    In light of them all saying that they should be tried and incarcerated if we can prove them guilty, I'm going to go with "no, they would absolutely have a problem with that solution," their words and actions prove they would and your ranting is tinfoil hatted delusional nonsense.

    December 26, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    @ora pike: Sorry, I mean't to say "any lives lost based on lies". I dropped the "v".

    December 26, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. willhaas

    This article cannot possible be correct since the President promised that GITMO would be closed within one year of his taking office to GITMO must be closed because the President always keeps his promises.

    December 26, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  11. OK

    many that have been released from gitmo have returned to their terrorists ways

    Who and when?
    The New York Times ran an article in 2009 basically making that same claim and subsequently had to apologize for "seriously flawed" journalism.

    December 26, 2013 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  12. Grahame Rhodes

    I've a better idea put Palin and the rest of the GLOP idiots in Guantanamo

    December 26, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  13. Harold Reed

    Obama needs the pressure off of him for the Obamacare Debacle. Since Congress is a nice target = let the Hoax and Blame begin!!!!

    December 26, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  14. rs

    The President of the United States ran on shutting down Gitmo- and Congress keeps blocking it- then complaining the the prison still operates. The GOP needs to really think about their insanity. The GOP claims that our domestic courts can't handle terrorism cases despite a solid history of doing so.
    The GOP needs to decide if they want to lead or obstruct. They have decided on the latter.

    December 26, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  15. rla

    Dipping them in the shark infested waters would solve a lot of problems and leave no evidence for liberal to whine over since it is ecologically a part of the cycle of live and bio degradable in the end– Problem solved

    December 26, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  16. Gurgyl

    This president is the best and wisest president in USA history–stock market is live proof. Yes, USA needed ACA Law for almost fifty years. Because of bribe by insurance thugs–GOP did not pass.

    December 26, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. Ddtgwt

    Droning causes far more extremism than Gitmo, but because Obama thinks he's so good at killing people the droning continues.

    December 26, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  18. tom

    Mr President please google the phrase "former Gitmo detainees" and see why it would be better to keep them in Gitmo until they are too old kill anyone.

    December 26, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  19. ED1

    How about just put them all in DC they would feel right at home.

    December 26, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  20. Beth

    I doubt obama can spell Guantanamo. Just another blame game moment. He's in withdrawal.

    December 26, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  21. MP in VA

    Obama never said any of the prisoners were "harmless." He wants them tried for their crimes. Only other place that I know has failed to try or release all enemy prisoners is North Korea. Drones are not perfect, but they have disrupted terrorist operations and kept US boots off more foreign soil. For every erroneous American drone attack, there are several times more Al Qaida bombing attacks targeting and killing civilians.

    December 26, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  22. S. B. Stein

    Why are we still keeping these people that can be released? Send those that have either been convicted or those that we can't release in Ultra-max security facilities. Those places are impossible to break out of.

    December 26, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  23. Bee lade

    No mister president your a coward and won't close it because like all the other Bush policy's you know they have to stay.

    You executive ordered everything else....nothing stopping you.

    Only you are to blame....again.

    December 26, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  24. Scott

    might as well move them in to the White House, put it to good use

    December 26, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  25. Marcus (from...?)

    Donna – Who said anything about releasing them? The only thing that we want is that the USA stop acting like Cuba or China or Chile (while Pinochet was in power that is) and finally put these guys under the US Judicial system, with formal accusations and trials. Simply have them arrested without charges for over a decade in some cases goes against the 'A Nation of Laws' stuff that children are taught in schools...
    There's a supermax prison awaiting them since 2009, NYC has some experience (going back to WWI) in judging people with terrorist acts accusations against them and all that
    Everything will happen according to the laws if/when GITMO is closed, so what are you affraid of?

    December 27, 2013 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
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