US House rejects domestic transfer of Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives [official website] on Wednesday voted 258-163 [roll call] to approve a non-binding motion to instruct conferees [CSPAN backgrounder] to prohibit the transfer of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees to the US for any reason, including prosecution and incarceration. The motion, introduced by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) [official website], instructs House conference committee members to insist on the prohibition during negotiations with the Senate on the 2010 Appropriations Bill [text] for the Department of Homeland Security [official website]. Rogers said that the detainees "pose a serious and documented threat to our nation," and should not be transferred [debate text] to the US "whatever the reason":


[T]his motion prohibits the granting of any immigration benefit for any reason. Without such a benefit, there is no legal way to bring these terrorists to American soil and in our constituents' backyards. And, that means these terrorists cannot be granted the same constitutional rights as American citizens. After all, these detainees are enemy combatants, caught on the battlefield. They are NOT common criminals and they should not be granted legal standing in our criminal courts by bringing them onto U.S. soil.

Homeland Security Subcommittee chair David Price (D-NC) [official websites] said [debate text, PDF] that prohibiting transfers would "elevat[e] these Guantanamo prisoners in the eyes of the world," and "means the detainees would have to be transferred to other countries or that Guantanamo would have to remain open as a permanent stain on our reputation for due process." The measure also instructs conferees to support adding Guantanamo detainees to the federal "no fly" list, and adopting Senate language forbidding the release of photos showing detainee abuse.

US President Barack Obama has faced sustained congressional opposition to his plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by January 2010, which senior administration officials said last week may cause them to miss the deadline [JURIST report]. In June, the House approved a spending bill [JURIST report] that denied the administration $60 million requested to close the facility. In May, the US Senate amended [JURIST report] a supplemental appropriations bill to delay an $80 million closure request until Obama made a detailed plan available to congress. In January, Obama issued an executive order [text; JURIST report] directing the military prison be closed "as soon as practicable and no later than one year from the date of this order."


 

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