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Utah’s members of Congress blast Obama for plan to close Gitmo

First Published      Last Updated Feb 25 2016 02:27 pm

Washington • Utah's Republican members of Congress say President Barack Obama is simply playing politics by closing the holding facility at Guantanamo Bay and would violate federal law by trying to bring the detainees to the United States.

Obama said keeping the military prison open in Guantanamo, Cuba, is "contrary to our values" as he unveiled a plan to search out a new facility on American soil.

Rep. Chris Stewart said federal law is "crystal clear" that the detainees cannot be moved to the United States and top military officers and the attorney general have said they will not violate that law.



"The president is delusional if he thinks we in Congress will agree to bring terrorists into the United States," said Stewart, a former Air Force major and member of the House Intelligence Committee. "This is a case of the president putting left-wing politics and his misplaced campaign promise ahead of national security."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz called Obama's proposal a "mistake."

"Having visited the prison myself, I believe Guantanamo is the best location to hold those who pose a grave threat to our nation," Chaffetz said. "The president's alternative is dangerous and makes our country less safe. With this plan, President Obama is prioritizing politics over security."

Sen. Mike Lee said that Obama continues to preach hope over an actual plan for how to deal with the detainees.

"Instead of taking the time to work constructively toward agreeable policies, the White House continues to be in campaign mode when it comes to addressing a sensitive national security issue," Lee said. "The American people deserve better."

Hatch said the plan would have unintended consequences.

"If these terrorists are moved to the U.S., even if they remain in military custody, their attorneys will unleash a litany of lawsuits seeking to afford these and future detainees the same constitutional protections as ordinary Americans," Hatch warned.

Rep. Mia Love also noted that Congress has specifically passed legislation to stop the detainees from being moved to American soil and also clearly asked Obama to produce a "clear and robust plan to defeat ISIS," referring to the terrorist group in the Middle East.

"It is baffling to me that this administration would disregard both congressional positions and instead prioritize the closing of Guantanamo before a clear plan to defeat terrorism," she said.

tburr@sltrib.com

 

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