EXCLUSIVE: Senators try to block funding to close Gitmo

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EXCLUSIVE:

Senators again are trying to stop the Obama administration from closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by blocking the money needed to transfer the remaining and most notorious prisoners to the United States, Sen. James M. Inhofe said Tuesday.

The restriction is part of the Defense Appropriations Bill now being debated on the Senate floor and would extend similar legislation that expires Oct. 1.

Mr. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, supports the bill and thinks it will pass because the 148 remaining prisoners are what he calls “the real bad guys,” including accused al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

“I think we may be in a (good) position,” Mr. Inhofe, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show. “Now that we’re down to the real hard-core, you’ve got to keep that thing open.”

A Senate Appropriations Committee staffer said the legislation could pass as early as this week.

President Obama has vowed to close the facility at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba by the end of the year. However, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs indicated Monday the administration might miss the self-imposed January deadline. A day earlier, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said that meeting that date would be “tough.”

The legislation that now blocks the funding and expires in just days is part of the Supplemental War Spending Bill and was written by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat and chairman of the appropriations committee.

Inhofe staffer Jared Young said such legislation in the Senate has no original co-sponsors, so Mr. Inouye has taken the lead on the new bill because of his clout on the committee.

“Sen. Inhofe has been working very hard with Sen. Inouye on this,” he said. Mr. Young also said Mr. Inhofe has his own bill, but it has not been scheduled for a vote.

Said Mr. Inhofe: “This obsession the president has on integrating these terrorists into the United States either for incarceration or trial is just insane. We have a perfectly good facility.”

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