GOP resolution calls for sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo

GOP resolution calls for sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo

Over a dozen GOP senators, including presidential candidates Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers MORE (Fla.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE (Texas), introduced a resolution Thursday to send detained Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters to Guantánamo Bay. 

The resolution comes a day after the Pentagon said it captured an ISIS leader on the battlefield, sparking new questions about how to handle such prisoners.

The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph Votel said on Tuesday there was a need to detain some terror suspects long-term, but where they would be held was under debate.

The Republican senators say the military prison at Guantánamo, which President Obama is working to close, should house the ISIS detainees.

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“More than seven years in, the Obama administration still does not have a coherent detention policy that will give our military and intelligence community the best opportunity to extract valuable intelligence to help defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks," said Rubio. "This White House would rather release terrorists from Guantánamo Bay and hope for the best." 

“Jihadists who seek to kill Americans should not be brought to American soil. The security of our people, not political expediency, should guide decisions regarding prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay,” added Cruz.

Introduced by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the resolution is just the latest vigorous protest by Republican senators against Obama's plan to transfer all eligible detainees out of the facility. The president wants to bring the remaining 30 to 60 detainees to an alternate location in the U.S.

Earlier this week, Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsThe Hill's Whip List: Republicans try again on ObamaCare repeal No. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight Overnight Healthcare: McConnell warns Senate not to block repeal debate | Insurers knock Cruz proposal | WH tries to discredit CBO | Lawmakers propose .1B NIH funding boost MORE (R-Okla.) introduced a resolution to block Obama from closing the facility. 

“Last week when I was at Guantánamo Bay I saw plenty of vacant cells,” Daines said. “Terrorists captured by U.S. forces belong in Guantánamo, a location that has played a pivotal role for collecting intelligence from detainees and keeping terrorists off the battlefield in the global war on terror." 

"Instead of closing Guantánamo Bay, the Administration should transfer detained ISIL fighters to the facility," added co-sponsor Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerRepublicans jockey for position on immigration Bipartisan bill would toughen North Korea sanctions, require Trump's strategy GOP senators push for delay of ObamaCare insurer tax MORE (Colo.), using an alternate name for the group. "This resolution paves the way to do just that, while preventing grants of new rights to terrorists." 

Other co-sponsors of the resolution include Republican Sens. Tom CottonTom CottonHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Republicans jockey for position on immigration The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Ark.), Mark KirkMark KirkGiffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns Stale, misguided, divisive: minimum wage can't win elections Immigration critics find their champion in Trump MORE (Ill.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP eyes limits on investor tax break Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (Utah), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonAmeriCorps hurricane heroes deserve a reward — don’t tax it Price’s job seen at risk after Trump slams private jet use Senate passes bipartisan Medicare reform bill MORE (Ga.), John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanThe Hill's Whip List: Republicans try again on ObamaCare repeal GOP senator undergoing follow-up surgery next week An unlikely home in DC MORE (Ark.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeA third of Congress hasn’t held a town hall — it’s time to take action Anonymous affiliate publishes claimed list of GOP private contact info Wasting America’s nuclear opportunity MORE (Okla.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open Senators grill ex-Equifax CEO over stock sales Wells Fargo chief defends bank's progress in tense Senate hearing MORE (S.C.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranTIMELINE: The GOP's failed effort to repeal ObamaCare The Hill's Whip List: Republicans try again on ObamaCare repeal IT modernization measure included in Senate-approved defense policy bill MORE (Kan.) and David VitterDavid VitterYou're fired! Why it's time to ditch the Fed's community banker seat Overnight Energy: Trump set to propose sharp cuts to EPA, energy spending Former La. official tapped as lead offshore drilling regulator MORE (La.).

The senators argue that as more terrorists are captured on the battlefield, there should be a place to hold and interrogate them for more intelligence.  

"President Obama’s default foreign policy strategy has been to kill off high-ranking ISIL fighters with drones instead of attempting to detain them to glean valuable intelligence information,” Inhofe said. "This has weakened our nation’s ability to more quickly make advancements in the Middle East." 

Opponents of the plan also argue that continuing to transfer detainees to other countries poses a threat to the U.S. 

On Monday, the intelligence community released its latest statistics on recidivism, which showed that the number of detainees suspected of reengaging in terrorism after being released by President Obama doubled from six to 12 in the six months prior to January. 

"No other facility can house terrorists as securely as Guantánamo, which is where we should be sending ISIS terrorists when they are captured by our brave servicemen and servicewomen in the field," said Kirk, a retired Navy reservist who faces a tough reelection fight this year.

“We should detain ISIS terrorists at Guantánamo as we cannot afford to release them into Iraqi custody and risk that these terrorists will end up right back on the battlefield," added Ernst, a retired Army lieutenant colonel.

Opponents also argue that the presence of detainees on U.S. soil could pose a threat to local communities. The Pentagon has surveyed potential U.S. sites in Kansas, Colorado and South Carolina.

"Captured militants affiliated with ISIL and other terrorist groups are dangerous and should be held at Guantánamo Bay, not in Kansas or anywhere else in the United States," said Moran. 

The administration argues that Gitmo provides propaganda for terrorists and is too expensive to maintain, at several million dollars per detainee. 

But some opponents say the administration is bent on fulfilling a campaign promise to close the facility. 

"Our facilities at Guantánamo offer a secure, lawful and humane option for detaining terrorists, and the administration’s misguided ideological agenda should not foreclose its continued use," Hatch said. 

"As we continue combat operations against the Islamic State, the Senate should again make it clear that Guantánamo and other facilities abroad offer the best alternatives for holding terrorists and collecting vital intelligence from them," he added. 

This story was updated at 11:15 a.m.