Cochran Critical of Obama Guantanamo Closure Plan

Chairman Says Lifting Restrictions on Moving Terrorist Detainees to U.S. Soil Improbable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense, today criticized President Obama’s plan to close the U.S. terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transport the detainees held there to U.S. soil.

The plan announced by the President on Tuesday would rely on congressional support for lifting long-standing statutory prohibitions against moving terrorist detainees to U.S. soil and the identification of prisons within the United States to house the detainees.

“For years, bipartisan majorities in Congress have supported legal restrictions on transferring terrorist detainees to the United States.  I do not believe those prohibitions will be set aside any time soon,” Cochran said.  “The President’s determination to move terrorists to American soil raises serious security and constitutional questions, and runs counter to public opinion.”

Cochran, as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense, included a provision in the FY2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act (Public Law 114-113) that prohibits the use of funds to transfer or release detainees from the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay into the United States.  It also bans the use of funds to construct, acquire or modify any facility in the United States to house transferred detainees.  That measure was approved by the Senate and House of Representatives and signed into law by President Obama.

In addition, the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act, like similar laws enacted since 2009, expressly prohibits the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to American soil and restricts the transfer of detainees to certain countries, including Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.