Eric Holder Admits That Without Congress, There’s No Way Gitmo Is Closing Down
According to Attorney General Eric Holder, closing Guantanamo is without question a positive thing — for fiscal reasons — because it carries a hefty “foreign policy price,” by functioning as a recruiting tool for terrorist groups like al-Qaida and ISIS.
He also mentioned that without Congress’ cooperation, the plans to shut down the prison will be dead in the water.
“It is something that costs us an excessive amount of money,” Holder stated at the National Press Club on Tuesday. “If you look at the amount of money that we spend to house one person in Guantanamo for one year, as opposed to what it would take to house that same person in a Supermax, in the United States.”
“There are a whole host of reasons why Guantanamo should be closed,” Holder continued. “I think it’s possible; we’ve made a substantial amount of progress, oh, I think with the last year or so. But I think ultimately it will require the cooperation of Congress to reduce the level to zero.”
Can Holder count on Congress to come through? Not if the recent measure stemming from the Republican side of Congress is any indication. (RELATED: SHUT IT DOWN! GOP To Close Door On Obama’s Plan To Empty Gitmo)
Last Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire by a close 14-12 vote. For any detainees deemed high-risk or medium-risk, the bill would suspend their transfer to countries willing to accept them.
More importantly, the bill would ban the president from sending former terror suspects to any country where a previous suspect had been returned, which would considerably lengthen the process of transferring prisoners out of Gitmo facilities. Yemen, a country wracked with internal violence and political instability as of late, would also be placed on the list of countries to which prisoners may not be transferred. An amendment from Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri would mandate the production of a report to comment on the common claim that Guantanamo is useful as a terrorist recruiting tool.
The White House immediately stated that it would veto any legislation which lands on President Barack Obama’s desk.
In the past few months, the Obama administration has renewed its focus on Guantanamo Bay in an attempt to make good on Obama’s original promise back in 2008 to shutter the prison facilities. Now, the prison population of Guantanamo has declined to just 122 prisoners, and while it may dwindle further, it seems Holder is out of luck in securing cooperation from Congress—barring a drastic and unforeseen change of heart.
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