It was one of Barack Obama’s first presidential executive orders, to close the prison at the Guantanamo Bay military base (Gitmo) on the tip of Cuba. The trade of Bowe Bergdahl wasn’t just about not leaving a soldier behind, it was also about getting five senior Taliban members out of Gitmo.
According to the Daily Beast, the administration has found countries that will enable 52 of the remaining 116 Gitmo detainees to be moved, but Defense Secretary Ashton Carter seems to be delaying the signing of the orders that would let them go and the Administration is not pleased..
Carter and the White House are increasingly at odds about how to whittle down the number of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, hampering the administration’s push to close the detention center by the end of its term.
The White House believes that Carter is unwilling to be accountable for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees and their conduct post-release, even to the point of defying the president’s policy on the detention facility, a White House source told The Daily Beast.
Because Congress has thankfully passed a law to ban the terrorist prisoners from being transferred to American soil, the administration has to find
suckers foreign countries willing to take the detainees.
But it is Carter’s signature that leads to a detainee’s release. The complaint heard at the Pentagon is Carter and the Defense Department are not moving fast enough for a White House that hopes to have the question of closing the facility answered by the end of its term. So far, Carter has only signed off on a handful of detainees at one time and has waited weeks to act on those cases.
As one defense official explained, Carter “is definitely under pressure… The White House, if it had its way, would like to see more regular signatures.”
There’s even speculation that if the President follows through on his threat to veto the defense budget bill to win changes on detainee policy, he will ask that the law be amended so that the president, not the defense secretary, has the final say on detainee transfers.
“Six and a half years ago, they told me they were going to come over with a plan. I have not been holding my breath,” McCain said. “[Former White House counsel] Greg Craig came to my office and said, ‘Senator, I’ll have a plan to you within a month!’ That was 2009.”
Come on guys, whats six years between progressive friends?
Defense officials note that while Congress may be frustrated with Carter, it also has made it harder for Carter to sign off on approved detainees. The restrictions have only grown since 9/11, they noted.
“The very people who are criticizing the secretary are making it hard to close Guantanamo Bay,” a second official said.
Closing the detention facility has, of course, been a priority of the president’s since his first day in office, but political realities have so far stymied the administration.
“This is not something the president wants to turn over to his successor,” Lisa Monaco, who serves as a Homeland Security Advisor to President Obama, told a panel last month.
Of course not, because if a Republican is elected, in all probability Gitmo will remain open. The closing of the modern prison at Gitmo is a progressive issue as they believe it is being used to recruit Muslims into the terrorist fold. Some also believe that Obama wants the prison emptied so he could return the land to Cuba.
Word of tension between the White House and the Pentagon over detainee transfers have trickled to Congress, where lawmakers are awaiting a promised Guantanamo Bay closure plan.
“The Obama administration is putting pressure on Carter to sign off on releasing some additional detainees. But some of the individuals they’re requesting, Carter doesn’t feel comfortable putting his name on the line, to sign off on them,” said a Senate aide who works on national security issues.
During his confirmation hearing, Carter made it clear to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he would not buckle under pressure. Senator Kelly Ayotte urged Carter to “not succumb to pressure by this administration to increase the pace of transfer from Guantánamo.”
Carter agreed, saying he wouldn’t be pressured.
Apparently Carter is keeping that promise which is upsetting progressives and the administration. There’s more to this article which you can read at the Daily Beast.