Report: Obama rules out executive order on Gitmo closure

Report: Obama rules out executive order on Gitmo closure
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The Obama administration has ruled out using an executive order to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, according to a new report from Reuters. 

Citing anonymous sources familiar with deliberations, Reuters reported Monday morning that the administration had decided against executive action to override a ban on bringing detainees to the United States.


White House lawyers and other officials studied the option, according to the news service, but ultimately could not come up with a convincing legal argument or a politically enticing case to sell in an election year.

With Republican opposition to the plan only hardening in recent months, the decision against using an executive order effectively extinguishes President Obama’s last chance to fulfill a promise from his first presidential campaign.

Hopes of closing the facility have been dim since Obama released his latest plan in February. The proposal, panned immediately by Republicans, hinged on bringing a handful of detainees to a facility in the United States.

Administrative officials have acknowledged publicly that the law prohibits them from transferring detainees stateside and pledged to work with Congress on the issue. But they also haven’t publicly ruled out an executive order.

The report comes as the Senate takes up its annual defense policy bill, which would lock in the transfer restrictions until after Obama leaves office and effectively quash his chances of closing the facility without an executive order. The House-passed version of the bill includes the same restrictions.

Republican opposition to the plan has only grown after news that at least a dozen detainees who were released to foreign countries have gone on to launch attacks that have killed Americans.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), a longtime opponent of the plan, hailed Monday's report. Jenkins represents Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, one of the sites the Pentagon looked at as a possibility to house detainees.

“Finally, President Obama has abandoned the notion of using an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center – this type of order would have been illegal and unconstitutional,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Both the American people and Congress have repeatedly and consistently stated that the detention center should be kept open and must be kept open to protect America’s national security.”