President Obama delivered a clear message to Congress Friday — take action to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, or I may use executive authority to do it myself.
Mr. Obama has succeeded in gradually reducing the number of prisoners at the site. Following the upcoming round of transfers, the population will drop under 100.
But the president has run into stiff resistance in his effort to permanently close the facility and move the remaining prisoners to sites in the U.S. or elsewhere around the world.
At his year-end press conference on Friday afternoon, he flatly told Congress that if they don’t help come up with a solution, he’ll consider using executive authority.
“There’s going to be a challenge there. Now, at the stage that I’m presenting a plan to Congress about how we can close Guantanamo. I’m not going to automatically assume Congress says ‘no.’ I’m not being coy,” Mr. Obama said. “I think we can make a very strong argument that it doesn’t make sense for us to be spending an extra $100, $200, $300, $500 million, $1 billion, to have a secure setting for 50, 60, 70 people. And we will wait until Congress has definitively said ‘no’ to a well-thought-out plan with numbers attached to it before we say something definitive about my executive authority here. I think it’s far preferable if I can get stuff done through Congress.”
The president also tied the facility to the ongoing fight against the terror group the Islamic State.
“Guantanamo continues to be one of the key magnets for jihadi recruits,” he said.