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Republicans Want Senators on Record On Gitmo — Again

Roberts is behind a new resolution against moving Gitmo detainees to the U.S. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Roberts is behind a new resolution against moving Gitmo detainees to the U.S. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A group of Senate Republicans, concerned that prisons in their states could become home to suspected terrorists, wants their colleagues once again on record against relocating detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to the U.S. mainland.  

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., is introducing a resolution designed to get his colleagues to assert opposition to the Obama administration’s effort to shut down the facility at the U.S. naval installation in Cuba. Roberts is joined in the effort, as in the past, by GOP Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Tim Scott of South Carolina, along with Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri and Roberts’ home state colleague Jerry Moran.  

“While Fort Leavenworth was one of a few sites under consideration, the president failed to choose a location, preferring to leave that to Congress,”Roberts said in a video accompany the release. “Now, that’s the same Congress that has repeatedly passed bipartisan laws against this very action. So, to remind my colleagues of what is at stake, I have introduced a resolution to place senators on the record opposing the transfer of terrorists from Gitmo and those facilities to America.”  

Roberts already stalled the nomination of Eric Fanning to be secretary of the Army over the Gitmo matter, a hold that shows no signs of being lifted any time soon. As a resolution, the new proposal from Roberts and his colleagues does not carry the force of law, but it is the latest reminder that the GOP-led Congress is sure to fight back against any effort to shutter the facility.  

The resolution, “demands that the President immediately abandon any ill-conceived and illegal plans to transfer detainees at United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, to the United States homeland without explicit authorization from Congress.”  

“This resolution once again reiterates Congress’ strong, bipartisan opposition to the administration’s plan to move detainees to Kansas or anywhere in the United States,” Moran said of the latest move in a statement to Roll Call. “The president should focus his efforts on the serious national security threats we face across the globe instead of wasting energy to fulfill a campaign promise that his own administration has confirmed is illegal.”  

Some Senate Republicans have, in fact, called for President Barack Obama to expand use of the facility at Guantanamo, saying that terrorists captured in the fight against ISIS should be transferred to the facility for detention.  

“ISIS continues to pose a dangerous threat to the U.S. and our allies, and the capture of a high-ranking ISIS terrorist is a significant opportunity to gather valuable intelligence and prevent future attacks,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said March 4. “The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is designed specifically for this purpose.”  

Ayotte echoed what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had told reporters in the Capitol on Jan. 12, in response to a question from Roll Call, in which he said the facility was “the perfect place for terrorists.”  

“I think it ought to stay open. I think we ought to add more terrorists to it and I think we ought to interrogate them there,” the Kentucky Republican said at that point. “And if it is concluded that they should be tried, they should be tried by military commission, the courtrooms are down at Guantánamo, not mainstreamed into an Article III court here in the United States, read their rights, and after which a lawyer obviously is going to tell them not to say anything.”

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