Obama May Delay Report on Closing Guantanamo Until Congress Is Out of Session to Avoid Publicity and Scrutiny, Hoekstra Warns
July 21, 2009 - 11:41 AMThe top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee is warning that the Obama administration is postponing a meeting with the committee and the release of its six-month report on the decision close Guantanamo Bay prison camp until August when people are not paying close attention to the issue.
“Some have suggested the administration may be pushing this off into August when Congress is out of session and families on vacation may not be watching the news. I hope these rumors are false, and the administration will give the American people the full transparency on this issue that they deserve,” Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) said.
"The Obama Administration has lacked a plan for closing Guantanamo Bay from the beginning and for the past six months has refused congressional oversight and public transparency regarding its hasty decision,” the congressman said.
Hoekstra said the administration has twice refused to meet with the committee “to discuss this report or lay out its plan to close Guantanamo even though it has found time to consult with the ACLU on this matter.”
He theorized that the administration may still be planning to bring terrorist detainees into the U.S. or release some of them without “exhaustive security reviews to ensure they no longer pose a threat to our nation and forces abroad.”
"The American people have made clear in surveys and through their lawmakers that they do not want Guantanamo Bay terrorists brought into their neighborhoods here in America,” Hoekstra said.
“European allies that have been quick to criticize Guantanamo have been slow to commit to taking even a few of its terrorist detainees, meanwhile the administration has resorted to paying-off Palau and Bermuda to take a few more—a decision that angered the British who are responsible for Bermuda’s security but were not consulted,” Hoekstra added.
The American Civil Liberties Union also criticized the president’s decision to postpone release of the report.
"The Obama administration must not slip into the same legal swamp that engulfed the Bush administration with its failed Guantánamo policies,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement.
“Any effort to revamp the failed Guantánamo military commissions or enact a law to give any president the power to hold individuals indefinitely and without charge or trial is sure to be challenged in court and it will take years before justice is served,” Romero said.
“The only way to make good on President Obama’s promise to shut down Guantánamo and end the military commissions is to charge and try the detainees in established federal criminal courts,” Romero added.
“Any effort to do otherwise will doom the Obama administration to lengthy litigation. A promise deferred could soon become a promise broken," Romero added.
“The administration should also permanently close the door to resettling terrorist detainees in the United States by encouraging House Democratic leaders to approve the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act," Hoekstra said.
Hoesktra and the Republican leadership have introduced the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act (H.R. 2294) to declare Congress’ opposition to transferring or releasing terrorists held at Guantanamo into the U.S.
The bill prohibits the Obama administration from transferring or releasing any terrorist detainees at Guantanamo to any state without express approval from the state’s governor and legislature. The measure also prohibits Obama from transferring or releasing a terrorist detainee into the U.S. unless he notifies Congress.