- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Attorney General Loretta Lynch seemed to fall out of step with the Obama administration’s reported plans to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to U.S. soil, saying Tuesday that such a move is prohibited under law.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, noted during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday that President Obama had significantly thinned out the prison by sending scores of detainees to other countries.

“Does this mean that you think it’s OK for the president to transport these people, who are some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists, to countries other than the United States, but it would not be OK for him to transfer them to the United States?” he asked.

Ms. Lynch noted that certain detainees can be moved abroad after a thorough vetting process, but “with respect to individuals being transferred to the United States, the law currently does not allow for that and that, as far as I’m aware of, is not going to be contemplated given the legal proscriptions.”

The statement seemed to put the attorney general at odds with plans Mr. Obama is exploring to transfer some detainees to prisons in Colorado and elsewhere in the U.S.

A Justice Department spokeswoman later clarified that Ms. Lynch was not writing off any of the president’s options as he moves forward with his plan to close the 13-year-old facility.

“The Attorney General is aware that the administration is working diligently to finalize the plan to safely and responsibly close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which will be delivered to Congress when complete,” spokeswoman Melanie Newman said. “Given the White House focus on this, her comments were intended to prevent speculation on outcomes of that process.”

The Senate this month approved a defense authorization bill that includes prohibitions on the use of federal funds to transfer the prisoners to the U.S. Mr. Obama is not expected to veto the bill, but has given signals that he may consider executive action to close the facility.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Republican lawmakers questioned whether moving Guantanamo Bay detainees to U.S. prisons could make the facilities targets for terrorists.

“If you brought terrorists from Guantanamo Bay and located them in a particular city in the United States, would it not be reasonable to conclude that that might enhance the likelihood that that city could be placed on one of these targeted lists?” asked Rep. J. Randy Forbes, Virginia Republican.

“There are any number of factors,” Ms. Lynch said.

After the release of five Yemeni men to the United Arab Emirates this weekend — the Obama administration decided they were no longer a threat but won’t send anyone to Yemen, which is torn by a civil war and hosts a major al Qaeda affiliate — the Guantanamo prison population stands at 107.

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