Obama's Weak Signing Statement on Guantanamo Transfer Ban

As predicted, President Obama has signed the defense funding authorization bill into law, issuing a signing statement that registered his objections but did not assert the provisions banning funding for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees was unconstitutional.

Despite my strong objection to these provisions, which my Administration has consistently opposed, I have signed this Act because of the importance of authorizing appropriations for, among other things, our military activities in 2011.

Nevertheless, my Administration will work with the Congress to seek repeal of these restrictions, will seek to mitigate their effects, and will oppose any attempt to extend or expand them in the future.

Good luck with that. Once you give power to the Government, it rarely gives it back.

Human Rights First has issued this response. [More...]

“President Obama is absolutely correct that, ‘The prosecution of terrorists in Federal court is a powerful tool in our efforts to protect the Nation,’ and we welcome his commitment to mitigating the effects of Congress’ shortsighted restriction. If the Obama Administration is serious about delivering on its promises to close Guantanamo and bring terrorism suspects to justice, it should be preparing the ground now—politically and legally—for prosecutions in federal court. And it should be exploring all other avenues for bringing terror suspects to justice, including the possible use of other unrestricted funds.”

I was wondering about the possibility of the use of non-governmental or unrestricted funds to move the detainees. Why can't that happen? How much could it cost to fly the remaining detainees to a facility in the U.S. and for related expenses, including the cost of the military personnel who accompany them? Maybe other countries would donate the amount, or some non-profits? Maybe Obama has a discretionary spending fund? Maybe it could come out of the Justice Department or DEA's budget. Could the cost be more than the DEA's excellent African adventures?

Congress didn't ban federal criminal trials for the detainees, just funds for their transfer to the U.S. It also placed restrictions on transferring them to third countries, but those can be gotten around by bringing them here. Once they are in, say New York, and charges are filed against them, New York's senators would be clamoring in a minute for federal funds for security and trials. Since they were a huge impetus in passing the funding ban, it could be the shortest route to a repeal.

Obama has to know there are other options. The question is, will he use them? And if not, how can he maintain he's serious about closing Guantanamo and expect us to believe him?

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  • Display: Sort:
    On a scale of 1 to 10, (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 07:08:19 PM EST
    where would you place "weak" and "lame"?  

    Also, should we be worrying about a U.S. detention facility and surrounds becoming a terrorist target?  Where did my brother get this idea?

    no worries there (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Jan 07, 2011 at 11:54:07 PM EST
    Supermax is holding plenty of convicted terrorists, "the worst of the worst" -- and there's been no terrorist acts there. That's just a baseless fear.

    "Justice Department" (none / 0) (#3)
    by Andreas on Sat Jan 08, 2011 at 02:04:20 AM EST
    The Democratic "Justice Department" probably has not time or money for this because it is concentrating on persecuting journalists, software developers and members of parliament in Europe.