GOP resolution calls for sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo

GOP resolution calls for sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo

Over a dozen GOP senators, including presidential candidates Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDems plot aggressive post-Mueller moves, beginning with McGahn Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Cuban negotiator says Trump's efforts to destabilize Cuba's government will fail MORE (Fla.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke to give commencement address at Texas's oldest black college Cornyn campaign, Patton Oswalt trade jabs over comedian's support for Senate candidate MJ Hegar announces Texas Senate bid MORE (Texas), introduced a resolution Thursday to send detained Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters to Guantánamo Bay. 

The resolution comes a day after the Pentagon said it captured an ISIS leader on the battlefield, sparking new questions about how to handle such prisoners.

The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Gen. Joseph Votel said on Tuesday there was a need to detain some terror suspects long-term, but where they would be held was under debate.

The Republican senators say the military prison at Guantánamo, which President Obama is working to close, should house the ISIS detainees.

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“More than seven years in, the Obama administration still does not have a coherent detention policy that will give our military and intelligence community the best opportunity to extract valuable intelligence to help defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks," said Rubio. "This White House would rather release terrorists from Guantánamo Bay and hope for the best." 

“Jihadists who seek to kill Americans should not be brought to American soil. The security of our people, not political expediency, should guide decisions regarding prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay,” added Cruz.

Introduced by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the resolution is just the latest vigorous protest by Republican senators against Obama's plan to transfer all eligible detainees out of the facility. The president wants to bring the remaining 30 to 60 detainees to an alternate location in the U.S.

Earlier this week, Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSchumer, author discussed possible Kansas Senate run: report Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 Republicans writing off hard-line DHS candidate MORE (R-Okla.) introduced a resolution to block Obama from closing the facility. 

“Last week when I was at Guantánamo Bay I saw plenty of vacant cells,” Daines said. “Terrorists captured by U.S. forces belong in Guantánamo, a location that has played a pivotal role for collecting intelligence from detainees and keeping terrorists off the battlefield in the global war on terror." 

"Instead of closing Guantánamo Bay, the Administration should transfer detained ISIL fighters to the facility," added co-sponsor Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerCongress can open financial institutions to legal cannabis industry with SAFE Banking Act Dem super PAC campaign urges Republicans to back impeachment On The Money: Cain withdraws from Fed consideration | Says he didn't want 'pay cut' | Trump sues to block subpoena for financial records | Dems plot next move in Trump tax-return battle MORE (Colo.), using an alternate name for the group. "This resolution paves the way to do just that, while preventing grants of new rights to terrorists." 

Other co-sponsors of the resolution include Republican Sens. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonOvernight Defense: Senators show skepticism over Space Force | Navy drops charges against officers in deadly collision | Trump taps next Navy chief Senators show deep skepticism on Space Force proposal GOP senators introduce bill to reduce legal immigration  MORE (Ark.), Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThe global reality behind 'local' problems Dems vow swift action on gun reform next year This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill MORE (Ill.), Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchHatch warns 'dangerous' idea of court packing could hurt religious liberty Former Democratic aide pleads guilty to doxing GOP senators attending Kavanaugh hearing How do we prevent viral live streaming of New Zealand-style violence? MORE (Utah), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonCongress punts on disaster aid amid standoff with Trump, Dems Overnight Defense: Transgender troops rally as ban nears | Trump may call more troops to border | National Guard expects 3M training shortfall from border deployment | Pentagon to find housing for 5,000 migrant children Pompeo: Russia complying with nuclear treaty that's up for renewal MORE (Ga.), John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanDemocrats, making a difference is better than making a point GOP senators read Pence riot act before shutdown votes On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (Ark.), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGOP Armed Services chair 'no longer concerned' about training for border troops Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 Overnight Defense: Senators show skepticism over Space Force | Navy drops charges against officers in deadly collision | Trump taps next Navy chief MORE (Okla.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP senators dismiss Booker reparations proposal On The Money — Presented by Job Creators Network — GOP senators urge Trump not to nominate Cain | Treasury expected to miss Dem deadline on Trump tax returns | Party divisions force Dems to scrap budget vote | House passes IRS reform bill GOP senators urge Trump not to pick Cain for Fed MORE (S.C.), Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranLive coverage: Barr faces Senate panel as he prepares release of Mueller report Hillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — House panel approves bill restoring net neutrality | FTC asks for more help to police tech | Senate panel advances bill targeting illegal robocalls Senate panel advances bill penalizing illegal robocalls MORE (Kan.) and David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBottom Line Bottom Line Top 5 races to watch in 2019 MORE (La.).

The senators argue that as more terrorists are captured on the battlefield, there should be a place to hold and interrogate them for more intelligence.  

"President Obama’s default foreign policy strategy has been to kill off high-ranking ISIL fighters with drones instead of attempting to detain them to glean valuable intelligence information,” Inhofe said. "This has weakened our nation’s ability to more quickly make advancements in the Middle East." 

Opponents of the plan also argue that continuing to transfer detainees to other countries poses a threat to the U.S. 

On Monday, the intelligence community released its latest statistics on recidivism, which showed that the number of detainees suspected of reengaging in terrorism after being released by President Obama doubled from six to 12 in the six months prior to January. 

"No other facility can house terrorists as securely as Guantánamo, which is where we should be sending ISIS terrorists when they are captured by our brave servicemen and servicewomen in the field," said Kirk, a retired Navy reservist who faces a tough reelection fight this year.

“We should detain ISIS terrorists at Guantánamo as we cannot afford to release them into Iraqi custody and risk that these terrorists will end up right back on the battlefield," added Ernst, a retired Army lieutenant colonel.

Opponents also argue that the presence of detainees on U.S. soil could pose a threat to local communities. The Pentagon has surveyed potential U.S. sites in Kansas, Colorado and South Carolina.

"Captured militants affiliated with ISIL and other terrorist groups are dangerous and should be held at Guantánamo Bay, not in Kansas or anywhere else in the United States," said Moran. 

The administration argues that Gitmo provides propaganda for terrorists and is too expensive to maintain, at several million dollars per detainee. 

But some opponents say the administration is bent on fulfilling a campaign promise to close the facility. 

"Our facilities at Guantánamo offer a secure, lawful and humane option for detaining terrorists, and the administration’s misguided ideological agenda should not foreclose its continued use," Hatch said. 

"As we continue combat operations against the Islamic State, the Senate should again make it clear that Guantánamo and other facilities abroad offer the best alternatives for holding terrorists and collecting vital intelligence from them," he added. 

This story was updated at 11:15 a.m.