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 RubioGOP Senate candidates trade barbs in brutal Indiana primary Students gather outside White House after walkout to protest gun violence Overnight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes MORE (Fla.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz's Dem challenger slams Time piece praising Trump Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election 32 male senators back Senate women's calls to change harassment rules 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 RobertsGOP senators raise concerns about babies on Senate floor Senate passes resolution allowing Duckworth to bring baby on floor Kill off anti-environmental excesses in the farm bill 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 GardnerPoll: Almost two-thirds of Texas voters support legal recreational marijuana House, Senate GOP compete for cash Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators want info on 'stingray' surveillance in DC | Bills to secure energy infrastructure advance | GOP lawmaker offers cyber deterrence bill 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 CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senator: Democratic opposition to Pompeo 'driven 100 percent by politics' Sunday Shows Preview: Emmanuel Macron talks ahead of state dinner Rand Paul under pressure as Pompeo hunts for votes MORE (Ark.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (Ill.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump struggles to get new IRS team in place Romney forced into GOP primary for Utah Senate nomination Romney won't commit yet to supporting Trump in 2020 MORE (Utah), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonNow is the time to modernize the OTC monograph system Overnight Health Care: GOP pushes stiff work requirements for food stamps | Johnny Isakson opens up about family's tragic loss to opioids | Republicans refuse to back vulnerable Dem's opioids bill | Dems offer new public option plan The Hill's Morning Report: Haley clashes with White House MORE (Ga.), John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSpending talks face new pressure Bill to bolster gun background checks gains enough support to break filibuster Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA MORE (Ark.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDems give muted praise to Pompeo-Kim meeting Overnight Energy: Former Pruitt aide alleges more wasteful spending, retaliation | Senate confirms EPA No. 2 | Zinke backs off big park fee increases Senate approves Trump’s pick for No. 2 at EPA MORE (Okla.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottPartisan tensions rise as Mueller bill delayed GOP dismisses report that tax law will add .9 trillion to debt Gowdy on video questions how long Pruitt is ‘going to make it’ MORE (S.C.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranTrump VA pick faces challenge to convince senators he’s ready for job Overnight Finance: Senate repeals auto-lending guidance, shattering precedent with vote | House passes IRS reform bills | Senate GOP fears tax cut sequel Senate repeals auto-loan guidance in precedent-shattering vote MORE (Kan.) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterPlanned Parenthood targets judicial nominee over abortion comments Trump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge Where is due process in all the sexual harassment allegations? 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.