McCaul: 'Hard to Stop' Obama From Bringing Gitmo Detainees to U.S.

By Susan Jones | November 9, 2015 | 8:11am EST
Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) chairs the House Homeland Security Committee. (AP File Photo)

( - Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, says there's not much Congress can do if President Obama uses his executive authority to bring Guantanomo Bay detainees to U.S. prisons, as he reportedly plans to do.

"Well, he's done this before, and it's hard to stop this kind of action," McCaul told "Fox News Sunday."

"I would hope the American people would rise up in numbers so strongly that as he tried to do this last time, that he'll decide to back down from that decision."

McCaul told host Chris Wallace, "I do think you're going to see an executive action to close down Guantanamo," which houses the "worst" of America's worst enemies.

"If they set foot on American soil, at a military prison, I predict the American people will stand up in outrage over this decision for many reasons.

"I've been down there, I've seen Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the evil incarnate, and the fact that we're bring him into United States to provide a Mecca for the jihadists -- you know, we're already having radicalized individuals hitting military installations in the United States.

"If we bring these guys into the U.S., to these facilities, you're going to see a heightened terror alert threat in the United States. It would be highly reckless and irresponsible."

The Pentagon has been studying a plan to close Gitmo by bringing the worst of the enemy combatants to prisons in the U.S., including the Centennial Correctional Facility in Colorado.

When he vetoed a Defense spending bill last month, President Obama cited a ban on transferring Gitmo inmates as one of the three major reasons for doing so:

"And the third thing is that this legislation specifically impeded our ability to close Guantanamo in a way that I have repeatedly argued is counterproductive to our efforts to defeat terrorism around the world," Obama said on Oct. 22 at a veto-signing in the Oval Office.

"Guantanamo is one of the premiere mechanisms for jihadists to recruit.  It’s time for us to close it. It is outdated; it’s expensive; it’s been there for years. And we can do better in terms of keeping our people safe while making sure that we are consistent with our values.

"So I’m going to be vetoing this authorization bill.  I’m going to be sending it back to Congress.  And my message to them is very simple:  Let’s do this right."

The House of Representatives last week (on Nov. 5) passed another National Defense Authorization Act, which also includes a ban on transferring Gitmo detainees. But Senate Democrats three times have blocked a vote on the  bill over a larger argument on government spending.

President Obama campaigned on a promise to close Guantanamo Bay, and his spokesman indicated last week that Obama means to do it:

"I would not take anything off the table in terms of the president doing everything that he can to achieve this critically important national security objective," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a reporter who aske if Obama would act unilaterally. "And this is a pretty transparent case of the United States Congress putting narrow political interests ahead of national security."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he's been asking the administration for six years to explain its plan for closing Gitmo, but "they have never come forward with one and it would have to be approved by Congress."

McCain and others have said that an executive order to close Guantanamo would face fierce opposition, "including efforts to reverse the decision through funding mechanisms," the Associated Press reported.

Although Congress has barred Obama from using taxpayer money to transfer Gitmo inmates to the United States, Obama is expected to argue that he has jurisdiction over prisons, including military prisons, and it's up to  him to decide which ones stay open and which are closed, Fox News reported on Monday.

(The Associated Press contributed some of the information used in this report.)

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