GOP chairman warns Obama of deadline for Gitmo plan

GOP chairman warns Obama of deadline for Gitmo plan
© Getty

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is pressing President Obama to share his plan for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility ahead of a February deadline.

The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the administration to send Congress a “comprehensive strategy” by Feb. 23 on how to detain current and future prisoners.

“So far, the only communication Congress has received regarding the administration’s intention to comply with its legal obligations is [Defense] Secretary [Ash] Carter’s recent public statements,” Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Major Russia weapons test stokes tensions Unnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world MORE (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to Obama released publically Thursday.


“To be clear, failing to comply with the law would not advance your objective of closing the detention facility at [Guantanamo].”

Obama pledged to close the prison during his first campaign for president, but Congress has repeatedly blocked his attempts. He’s been working to fulfill that promise by the time he leaves office next year and has hinted he would be willing to use executive action if he can’t get support from lawmakers.

Last month, Carter said he delivered the president a plan that would close the facility and move the remaining detainees to a facility in the United States.

In his letter, Thornberry expressed concern that plan does not include elements required by the NDAA.

“Press reports suggest the plan will not include many of the details required by law to be submitted to Congress, such as listing the specific U.S. facilities where detainees would be held and a full cost estimate,” he wrote.

The NDAA requires six specific elements be included in the plan, including the specific facility or facilities that would hold detainees, estimated costs associated with their detentions and a plan for how to handle future detainees.

The cost breakdown must take into account improvements, additions or changes to each facility; any construction of new facilities; maintenance and operation of each facility; and security, military, civilian and contractor personnel.

“As the due date for the required report approaches, I urge you to ensure that it includes all of the information required by law,” Thornberry wrote. “This information is critical for Congress to evaluate the merits of the plan.”