Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Budget Deal and NDAA Veto Offer Opportunity for President to Renew Efforts at Closing Guantanamo
Press Release

RELEASE: Budget Deal and NDAA Veto Offer Opportunity for President to Renew Efforts at Closing Guantanamo

Press Contacts

  • Tom Caiazza

Washington, D.C. — The budget deal in Congress puts to rest several of the defense budget issues that caused President Barack Obama to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, last month. However, it shifts attention to the issue of Guantanamo detainees, another of the president’s stated reasons for vetoing that legislation. In a column released today, the Center for American Progress looks at the policies preventing the closing of the prison at Guantanamo and makes concrete recommendations for Congress to adopt that would allow the president to transfer those prisoners.

“On his first full day in office, President Obama made the pledge to close Guantanamo within one year. Congressional Republicans, who never said a word when President George W. Bush transferred more than 500 detainees out of Guantanamo, including one to the United States, have led a politically motivated campaign to make it practically impossible for President Obama to transfer detainees out of the prison,” said Ken Gude, CAP Senior Fellow and author of the column. “The president drew a line in the sand with his veto of the NDAA, and despite recent history, there is still a path forward to close Guantanamo before his term ends.”

The prohibition against bringing Guantanamo detainees to the United States for trial makes no sense when similar suspected terrorists captured overseas are frequently brought to the United States with absolutely no political controversy. Despite the political furor over Benghazi, the alleged ringleader of that attack has been in a Washington, D.C., jail for more than a year without attracting any controversy. In addition to the current transfer ban, this year’s NDAA includes arbitrary and absolute prohibitions on transfers to certain countries—an inappropriate interference with military commanders’ discretion to take action they believe is in the interests of the United States. It also bans transfers to the United States for medical treatment, and given Guantanamo’s relatively limited and isolated medical facilities, this represents a shirking of the United States’ legal and ethical responsibilities to these prisoners and reduces the quality of care for U.S. personnel at Guantanamo. Changing these policies would allow the president to make significant strides toward closing Guantanamo.

Click here to read the column.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at tcaiazza@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7141.

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