In the political equivalent of swatting an underhanded-thrown softball into the bleachers, Pinellas County U.S. Rep. and GOP Senate candidate David Jolly came out Thursday against the Obama administration’s latest attempt to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and transfer detainees to U.S. mainland prisons.
“The closing of Gitmo would only embolden the enemies of freedom who wish to do us harm,” Jolly said. “At a time when terrorism continues to spread throughout the world, we must remain resolved to defeat it.”
Closing down the prisoner camp for terrorists caught on the battlefield immediately after the 9/11 attacks was a campaign promise that then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama promised when running for president in 2008. But sturdy opposition from both sides of the political aisle have thwarted several attempts to do in the 6 1/2 years he’s been in office.
And while members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have been the main obstacle to eliminating those prisoners, the most recent attempt to transfer those detainees is being halted because of the administration’s own inconsistencies.
The Washington Post reports that the White House had intended to provide lawmakers with a new plan on Gitmo before they took their August recess. Part of that plan was to consider sending some of the 116 detainees remaining at the prison to either a top-security federal prison in Thomson, Ill., or a naval facility in Charleston, S.C.
However ,Justice Department officials — including then-Attorney General Eric Holder — had previously vowed that such a transfer would never happen.
In 2012, Holder Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee: “We will not move people from Guantanamo, regardless of the state of the law, to Thomson. That is my pledge as attorney general.”
The administration has also discussed moving Gitmo detainees to the Consolidated Naval Brig in Charleston, where terrorism suspects have been held in the past. But South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham refuses to support such a move.
Jolly introduced legislation this year that would prohibit any attempt by the president to relinquish custody of U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to Cuba without congressional approval. Additionally, the House approved Jolly’s amendment to the Fiscal Year 2016 Military Constructions and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill prohibiting any federal money from being used to relinquish the base.