The ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee is urging his colleagues in Congress to consider President Obama’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
“Responsibly closing the detention facility at GITMO and transferring detainees won’t be easy, but it is the right thing to do,” Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedOvernight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo Senate GOP expected to block defense bill amid stalemate MORE (D-R.I.) said in a written statement Tuesday. “The administration has finally taken the important step required by the [National Defense Authorization Acty] to submit a plan to Congress, and I urge my colleagues to join me in carefully reviewing the proposal.”
The Pentagon and Obama unveiled a long-awaited plan Tuesday to shutter the detention facility. It’s a last-ditch effort for Obama to fulfill a promise from his first campaign for the presidency.
Republicans in Congress swiftly condemned the plan, saying it lacked key details or was dangerous. They pledged not to change the law that bars Guantanamo detainees from being transferred to U.S. soil.
At least one Democratic senator has come out against the plan, too.
But Reed said it’s high time for the facility to close.
“GITMO should have been closed by now,” he said. “Even George W. Bush wanted to close it.”
He also pushed back on comments that closing the facility would be a national security risk.
“And let’s be clear: closing GITMO does not mean releasing anyone, setting bad guys free or doing anything other than putting them in a highly secure prison and on trial under the right military tribunal system or legal process,” he said.
Further, he said, Congress has been making closing the detention center more difficult.
“This process has been made more difficult by restrictions imposed by Congress," he said, "but there remains broad recognition that the facility is a symbolic hindrance to bringing terrorists to justice and weakens counter-terrorism cooperation with our allies."