The White House issued a veto threat Tuesday over a House bill that would prohibit the use of federal funds to transfer any terrorism detainees from the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba to the mainland U.S. or another country.
The administration said in a veto message that the House bill would “seek to foreclose entirely the executive branch’s ability to determine appropriate disposition options for detainees, including to transfer them consistent with our national security and our humane treatment policy.”
The administration has been transferring dozens of detainees to other nations willing to accept them. President Obama has said he wants to move some of the remaining detainees to prisons on the mainland, pointing out that the U.S. already has imprisoned some terrorists in such facilities without incident.
Lawmakers in both parties oppose the transfer of Gitmo detainees to the U.S., saying it could invite terrorist attacks in the communities where they are jailed.
There are currently 61 detainees at Gitmo, many of whom have been approved for transfer to other nations.
The White House reiterated that the “continued operation of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists.”
The administration submitted a plan in February to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. It said the legislation to be voted on this week “represents an effort not only to extend the facility’s operation — as have the other unwarranted legislative restrictions on transfers — but to bring to a standstill the substantial progress the administration has made in safely and securely reducing the facility’s population.”
Rep. Jackie Walorski, Indiana Republican, said the administration “is so intent on fulfilling a campaign promise to close Gitmo that it’s released more than three dozen detainees this year and cleared another 20 for transfer.”
“Their opposition to my bill blocking further transfers until new safeguards are in place is not surprising, but it is disappointing that the administration continues to put politics ahead of our national security,” she said.
• Dave Boyer can be reached at email@example.com.
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