House votes to ban all Gitmo transfers

House votes to ban all Gitmo transfers
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A defense spending bill would prevent transferring any detainees out of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility under an amendment passed Wednesday. 

The proposal to tighten restrictions comes after a report that at least a dozen former detainees have gone on to launch attacks that killed about a half-dozen American.

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“The president is so focused on closing Guantanamo that he ignores the danger posed by the terrorists detained there,” said Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), the sponsor of the amendment. “How can this administration guarantee these prisoners won’t return to the battlefield? The fact is they can’t.”

The amendment was passed by voice vote, and no roll call vote was requested.

The measure would prohibit using funds to transfer a Guantanamo detainee to “any other location.”

If signed into law, Hudson’s amendment would be the strictest prohibition on transfers yet.

As originally written, the defense appropriations bill would continue bans on using funds to build or modify facilities in the United States to house detainees or to transfer detainees stateside or to specific foreign countries.

President Obama’s plan to close the facility hinges on bringing some detainees to the United States.

But in the face of the continued bans on doing so, the administration has focused on transferring detainees who are eligible to foreign countries. The idea is to bring the number of detainees remaining at Guantanamo to a figure low enough to make an argument for closing the facility.

Republican opposition to transferring detainees anywhere has hardened recently after the report about former detainees' attacks.

But Democrats continued to argue for closing the facility and voiced opposition to Hudson’s proposal.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) argued that Hudson’s amendment was written broadly enough that even detainees found not guilty by a trial would have to stay at Guantanamo.

“This amendment is particularly pernicious,” Nadler said. “It says you may not spend any funds to move anyone from Guantanamo, period. That has to be unconstitutional. Because what it says is, even if you find that an individual is innocent, even if you factually find out he’s guilty of no terrorism, he didn’t fight against us, he’s not a prisoner of war, he’s guilty of nothing, he must stay in jail forever.

"How can an American legislative body pass a provision that says we will hold someone in jail forever not only without trial but even if we know he’s innocent of everything?”

The provision would have to be added to the Senate version of the bill and signed by Obama before becoming law. 

The White House has threatened to veto the appropriations bill, in part because of the Guantanamo restrictions in the bill prior to the amendment.