Lynch: No Gitmo transfers to US without change in law


The Obama administration will not try to transfer detainees from Guantánamo Bay to the United States without a change in law, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Wednesday.

“The law currently prohibits a transfer to U.S. soil, and the president would have to work with Congress,” Lynch testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Congress would have to consider any relevant changes that could be made to the law before any transfers could be taken.”

The comments are perhaps the most explicit acknowledgment that the president’s goal of closing the detention facility will not be met while he is in office, given the overwhelming opposition in Congress.

The administration has repeatedly claimed it believes current prohibitions in defense policy law bar the Pentagon from bringing any of the 91 detainees at the camp to the U.S. But Wednesday’s comments, which follow the president’s unveiling of a general strategy for closing the facility last month, make clear that those restrictions will obstruct Obama from fulfilling his long-held promise to close the detention facility.

“The president’s policy indicates a desire to work with Congress to implement any necessary changes that would have to be taken before this could be taken,” Lynch said before the Senate panel on Wednesday. “I believe that is his plan.”

The White House proposal last month, which was demanded by Congress, would send 35 of the remaining Guantánamo Bay detainees who have been cleared for release to foreign countries.

The dozens of remaining prisoners, who are believed to be too dangerous to be set free, would be transferred to one of several potential facilities in the U.S. The plan lists military prisons in Kansas and South Carolina, as well as a federal prison in Colorado as potential locations to house the detainees.

The remaining prisoners at Guantánamo Bay include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al Qaeda mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

The president’s plan ran into a wall of opposition on Capitol Hill. In addition to resounding resistance from Republicans, multiple Democrats also declined to embrace the proposal.