Sessions, Grassley Warn Administration Against Ignoring Congress on GITMO

Sessions, Grassley Warn Administration Against Ignoring Congress on GITMO

“The president’s pledge to shutter GITMO was built on the naïve premise that softening America’s image would somehow soften our enemies’ resolve. That the Administration still clings to this hope—despite the continuing spate of attempted domestic terror strikes—suggests, at bottom, a failure to properly understand the radical Islamist threat.”

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), respectively the outgoing and incoming Ranking Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement today in response to reports that President Obama may attempt to sidestep Congress’ recent vote to block funds for the transfer of Guantánamo Bay detainees to the United States:

“Foreign terrorists, captured on foreign soil, should not be brought to America for civilian trial. Instead, they should be tried by military commission—the policy most consistent with our history, our values, and the longstanding rules of war. In 2006 and 2009, Congress passed legislation to formally establish these commissions, and funded construction of a courthouse in Guantánamo Bay where these trials can be safely and securely held.

Yet, at every turn, the Obama Administration has undermined these commissions and pushed to relocate GITMO’s terrorists to the United States—even including the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. The president has nominated individuals at the Justice Department who share this view, including James Cole, now the Deputy Attorney General, who called 9/11 a criminal act comparable to the drug trade and organized crime. Cole added that just because a foreign terrorist organization is involved does not mean we should abandon the criminal justice system.

And now disturbing reports have surfaced that President Obama is considering a signing statement designed to circumvent congressional action that blocked funding for these civilian terror trials. Not only would this move defy the public will in furtherance of an unwise policy, but it would attack Congress’ fundamental constitutional authority to authorize funds. Any such effort will be opposed vigorously.

President Obama’s continued determination to try war criminals in a civilian venue is both puzzling and dangerous. These trials are not in keeping with military history or values, and holding them at courthouses in American communities—instead of at Guantánamo Bay—would introduce needless risks and burdens.

The president’s pledge to shutter GITMO was built on the naïve premise that softening America’s image would somehow soften our enemies’ resolve. That the Administration still clings to this hope—despite the continuing spate of attempted domestic terror strikes—suggests, at bottom, a failure to properly understand the radical Islamist threat.”


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