Rep. Wolf Vows: No Gitmo Prisoners Will Be Transferred to U.S.
(CNSNews.com) – Responding to President Obama’s latest reaffirmation of his 2008 campaign pledge to close the military prison now housing 164 terror suspects at the Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, veteran Republican Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.) vowed that the House will block any administration efforts to transfer prisoners to the U.S. mainland.
“The House’s position is firm. You’re not going to transfer prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. Period,” Wolf said in a statement to CNSNews.com.
Wolf, chairman of the House subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons, has long been a vocal opponent of relocating Gitmo prisoners to detention facilities within the U.S.
After leading a congressional delegation from Virginia to the military facility in July, Wolf said he has determined that Gitmo prisoners are not being tortured, and that “the center is run in a safe, humane, transparent and, above all, legal manner.” At the time, the Virginia Republican said that he would consider “the possibility of holding civilian trials at Guantanamo Bay for certain detainees,” but stressed that any such proceedings should not be held on American soil.
Wolf cited a Government Accountability Office report (GAO) last fall that he said “notes the potential security risks associated with transferring detainees to the U.S.”
According to the November 2012 GAO report, “DOD’s current ability to minimize risks to the public is attributable to Guantanamo Bay’s remote location and limited access, whereas DOD corrections facilities in the United States are generally located on active military installations in close proximity to the general public.” (See GAO Gitmo study.pdf)
The week of November 18th, the Senate is expected to vote on its version of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 (NDAA) , which would give the administration more flexibility to transfer Gitmo prisoners to the U.S. or their home countries and close down the prison. The White House is reportedly lobbying swing-state Senate Democrats to support the measure.
But Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, pointed out in May that with the recidivism rate for terror suspects released from Gitmo “now at 28%,” closing the facility was “a bad idea.”
The Senate version will also have to be reconciled with the NDAA bill passed by the House that bans the transfer of any prisoners from Guantanamo to the U.S., its territories, or any foreign nation that has a “confirmed case of any individual transferred from U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the same country or entity who engaged in terrorist activity subsequent to their transfer.” The House version also includes $264 million to maintain the military prison and $247 million to build two new barracks there. (See House NDAA.pdf)
On Jan. 22, 2009 Obama signed an executive order directing a government review panel to determine “the closure of detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay by Jan. 22, 2010.”
However, strong congressional opposition to transferring Gitmo terror suspects captured abroad to detention facilities within the U.S. has prevented Obama from implementing it. (See Executive order 13492.pdf)
Further complicating matters for the administration is the fact that that 85 of the remaining prisoners – more than half - are from Yemen, where al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula maintains a major presence.
The al Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day bomber’s failed 2009 attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner. In August, the State Department temporarily shut down two dozen diplomatic missions in the area after intercepting communications warning of another potential terrorist attack.