Pressure is mounting on President Obama to abandon any plan to unilaterally transfer Guantanamo detainees to American soil. Why? It’s against the law.
That’s exactly what Lt. General William Mayville, Jr., director of the Joint Staff, told Congress last week.
In response to an inquiry led by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Lt. General Mayville wrote in a letter, “Current law prohibits the use of funds to ‘transfer, release or assist in the transfer or release’ of detainees of Guantanamo Bay to or within the United States, and prohibits construction modification or acquisition of any facility within the United States to house any Guantanamo detainee. The Joint Staff will not take any action contrary to those restrictions.” (Emphasis added).
He is not alone in this assertion. In fact, Lt. General Mayville is the third top government official in recent months to agree that transferring terrorist detainees is against the law:
Defense Secretary Ash Carter: “There are people in Gitmo who are so dangerous we cannot transfer them to the custody of another government no matter how much we trust that government. . . .We need to find another place [and] it would have to be in the United States. So I’ve made a proposal for the president, and he has indicated that he’s going to submit that to the Congress. Why is that? Because it’s against the law. Now, to establish another detention facility, so therefore have to get the support of Congress.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch: “With respect to individuals being transferred to the United States (from Guantanamo Bay) the law currently does not allow for that.”
While the law is clear, there is still the possibility that the president may turn to executive action to bring these terrorists to American soil.
That’s why, as Speaker Ryan said last week, “we are pressing ahead with legal preparations. If the president takes illegal action, we will be ready to respond."