The Obama administration is legally prohibited from bringing detainees from Guantánamo Bay to the United States, Attorney General Loretta Lynch maintained on Wednesday, one day after the Pentagon sent to Congress a plan to do just that.
“That is the state of the law,” Lynch testified in a House Appropriations subcommittee.
The comments, which Lynch and other top administration officials have maintained in the past, reflect the paradox facing the White House as it seeks to empty the 15-year-old detention facility located on a small plot of Cuban land but lacks a legal mechanism to do so.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon sent Capitol Hill a plan to transfer nearly three-dozen of the remaining 91 detainees to other countries, and then bring the remainder to an unspecified facility in the U.S.
Congress, however, has barred the administration from using any federal funds to build or modify a facility to hold those detainees or from bringing them to U.S. soil. Republican lawmakers on Tuesday erupted at Obama’s congressionally mandated plan, claiming that the effort would be illegal.
The plan submitted on Tuesday represents the latest in a protracted battle over the detention facility and the legality of the U.S.’s treatment of detainees there.
Lynch on Wednesday said that the administration’s plan represents “the administration’s goal” to close the detention camp, which Obama has pledged to do since his 2008 presidential campaign.
The existence of the camp serves as a recruiting tool for terrorists, is a waste of money and represent a gross abuse of human rights, its critics claim.
“The administration is committed to closing that and of course we support those efforts,” Lynch said.