President Warned Not to Skirt Law that Bans Bringing Guantanamo Terrorists into U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding Guantanamo terrorists:

“Years ago, then-candidate Obama made a campaign promise that has not withstood the measure of time or the realities brought by terrorism.

“He said he wanted to close the secure detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Ever since, he has pursued policies that willfully avoided the targeting chain of capture, interrogate, build intelligence, and target.

“It turns out, the reality of closing the secure detention facility is a lot harder than making promises on the campaign trail. It’s an incredibly complex issue with grave national security concerns for the citizens of our country and our allies. That fact that the President has never been able to present any kind of serious plan to Congress seems to say a lot.

“We hear he’s finally working on one now. We will of course give consideration to what he sends. We will of course keep an open mind. It doesn’t mean Congress is going to agree with him — it’s going to be a very tough sell because it is hard to understand why indefinite detention for terrorists on United States soil is preferable to detaining terrorists who cannot be released in Guantanamo. This is especially true when one considers the fact that bringing terrorists here presents serious risks that simply do not exist if we keep the terrorists in the secure facility there.

“This much is crystal clear though: If the President wants to be able to import Guantanamo terrorists into Americans’ backyards, he’s going to have to persuade a majority in Congress to change the law.

“Just last week, big bipartisan majorities in Congress voted twice to underline the point.

“We overwhelmingly passed a defense authorization bill with a clear, bipartisan prohibition on the President moving Guantanamo terrorists into our country.

“We overwhelmingly passed a veterans funding bill with a clear, bipartisan prohibition on the President improving military facilities for the detention of Guantanamo terrorists in our country.

“The Senate has voted many times in recent years to enact these bipartisan protections.

“We’ve enacted them in Congresses with split party control.

“We’ve enacted them in Congresses with massive Democratic majorities.

“The President has signed them into law.

“So if the President wants to bring Guantanamo terrorists into the United States, he has to change the law.

“That’s the opinion of the President’s own Attorney General.

“She was asked directly this week if the President could ignore legislation passed by Congress that prohibits him from transferring Guantanamo detainees to American soil.

“This is what she said. ‘The law currently does not allow for that.’

“Let me repeat that. ‘The law currently does not allow for that.’

“This is what the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, a woman appointed by President Obama himself, had to say on his ability to import Guantanamo terrorists into our country.

“This isn’t exactly a revelation to anyone. The fact that the President is now contemplating flouting the law in pursuit of a campaign promise from years ago means that it’s apparently necessary for his own Attorney General to remind everyone that the law is the law.

“There are a multitude of other reasons not to bring these dangerous individuals into our country. I plan to continue reminding my colleagues of them here on the floor.

“If the President ever presents some kind of plan we can actually debate, I’m sure there will be several different views on it. I’m sure we’ll each have a lot to say. I’m sure the President will make his pitch to convince Congress that moving terrorists into American communities is a good idea.

“Like I said, it will be a hard sell. But the President should make his case if he feels passionately about it.

“For now though, we should all at least be able to agree with what one of our Democratic Senate colleagues recently said of the President: ‘He's going to have to comply with the legal restrictions.’”

Related Issues: Guantanamo Detention Facility, National Security, War on Terror