Barletta Votes to Block Transfer of Gitmo Detainees
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today supported legislation to block the handover of detainees from the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to other countries, a move designed to counter the Obama Administration’s increased pace and number of transferals. When President Obama assumed office, there were 240 detainees at the facility, also known as Gitmo. Today there are 61, while many of the released terrorism suspects are believed to have returned to the battlefield. The legislation, H.R. 5351, bars transfers until Congress provides additional legislative guidance or until a new administration takes office and considers what federal law currently states. The bill passed the House by a vote of 244-to-174 and now heads to the Senate for its consideration.
“Congress has made clear over and over again that it is opposed to the transfer of detainees and the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” Barletta said. “We don’t want these terrorists released so they can return to the fight, or worse, enter American prisons and begin to radicalize inmates within our own borders.”
Early in the Obama Administration, officials determined that some detainees should remain in detention and be prosecuted. Since then, some have had their designation changed and many have been transferred. In the meantime, Congress is currently considering the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will contain important provisions related to Guantanamo Bay detainees. Depending on when the president signs the act, the measure could take effect as early as January 1, 2017. The bill the House approved today blocks the transfer of any detainees until the NDAA takes effect or a new president takes office, whichever comes first.
“This bill will prevent any rash decisions on the part of an outgoing administration which is desperate to fulfill a poorly-conceived campaign promise from eight years ago,” Barletta said. “The new president ought to be able to examine the situation at Gitmo and make a determination about what is the prevailing law. Nothing less than national security is at stake.”