Republicans slam Biden remarks on closing Gitmo

Republicans slam Biden remarks on closing Gitmo
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Republicans are blasting Vice President Biden for saying it's his “hope and expectation” the Guantánamo Bay detention facility will close by the end of President Obama’s term.

“The only people who want to bring terrorist detainees to our shores are President Obama and Vice President Biden,” Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said in a written statement Friday. “That is the reason that bipartisan majorities have consistently acted to prevent them from being transferred here.”

On Thursday, Biden told a news conference in Sweden that he expects the facility to close by the time Obama leaves office in January.

“That is my hope and expectation,” he said.

Prospects for closing the facility have looked dim since Obama submitted a plan to Congress in February that Republicans roundly rejected. The plan hinged on bringing some detainees to a facility in the United States, which is banned by law.

Republicans have shown no desire to change the law, and the ban would remain in place under this year’s pending defense policy bill.

Administration officials haven’t publicly ruled out using an executive order to override the ban, but reports have suggested that option may be off the table. Publicly, administration officials have said they hope to work with Congress on the issue.

“What we will continue to do is to work to overcome the obstacles that Congress has erected to prevent the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at a press briefing Thursday when asked about Biden’s comments.

Along with Thornberry’s statement, the House Armed Services Committee released Friday a four-page document called “Fact Sheet: Falsehood of Closing Guantanamo Bay.”

The document focuses on last week’s transfer of 15 detainees to the United Arab Emirates, the Obama administration’s largest single transfer out of the facility to date.

“This latest detainee transfer suggests, yet again, that the president is more interested in fulfilling a campaign promise at any cost than in honestly addressing the risks associated with transferring detainees from GTMO,” it says, bolded and underlined. “This is worrisome — after all, this is the president who consistently underestimates the threat Islamic extremists pose to America."

The House Foreign Affairs Committee majority put up a blog post Thursday also slamming Biden’s comments.

“Given that half of the remaining detainees are too dangerous to release and that it would be illegal to transfer them to the U.S., how does Vice President Biden expect the president to close Gitmo without violating the law?” the post asked.

Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteThe Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP Audit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years MORE (R-N.H.) said transferring detainees stateside would be a “blatant and serious” violation of the law.

"Contrary to what this administration has repeatedly asserted, emptying and closing Guantanamo Bay would make our country less safe — and if they have to transfer these dangerous terrorists to the United States in order to empty the facility, that would be a blatant and serious violation of the plain language of the law," she said in a written statement.