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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 RubioTrump must send Russia powerful message through tougher actions McCain, Coons immigration bill sparks Trump backlash Taking a strong stance to protect election integrity MORE (Fla.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSasse statement: Trump nominee who spread conspiracy theories has a ‘tinfoil hat’ Coalition of 44 groups calls for passage of drug pricing bill For the sake of our democracy, politicians must stop bickering 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 RobertsPat Robertson recovering from stroke GOP senator relieved Trump didn't mention NAFTA Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA 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 interested in Romney leading NRSC: report Overnight Finance: Mnuchin promises new Russia sanctions after uproar | Dow drops ahead of Trump State of the Union | GOP senators call on Trump to protect NAFTA | Regulators subpoena major bitcoin exchange Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA 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 CottonThis week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid immigration fight Ingraham: White House yanked immigration plan defense from show After shutdown surrender, why should progressives ever trust Chuck Schumer again? 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 HatchOvernight Tech: Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up hack | Apple considers battery rebates | Regulators talk bitcoin | SpaceX launches world's most powerful rocket Overnight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breach Hatch introduces bipartisan bill to clarify cross-border data policies MORE (Utah), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonHouse funding bill includes bipartisan Medicare reforms Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Collins becomes centrist power player MORE (Ga.), John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Dems go on the attack during EPA chief's hearing Bipartisan group of senators ask Trump to fund broadband in infrastructure plan MORE (Ark.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeRepublican agenda clouded by division Overnight Regulation: Dems go on attack during EPA chief's hearing | Mnuchin promises more Russia sanctions | Regulators subpoena major bitcoin exchange | New lawsuit over FDA e-cig rule Dems go on the attack during EPA chief's hearing MORE (Okla.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTrump rallies Republicans: ‘We’re just getting started’ Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Steve Wynn resigns as RNC finance chair after sexual misconduct allegations MORE (S.C.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranUber: 'No justification' for covering up data breach Overnight Tech: Senators want probe of company selling fake Twitter followers | Google parent made over 0B in 2017 | House chair threatens to subpoena DHS over Kaspersky Overnight Regulation: Labor Department reportedly hid unfavorable report on tip-pooling rule | NY plans to sue EPA over water rule | Senators urge FTC to probe company selling fake Twitter followers MORE (Kan.) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterTrump nominates wife of ex-Louisiana senator to be federal judge Where is due process in all the sexual harassment allegations? Not the Senate's job to second-guess Alabama voters 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.