This week, as the House considers the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith will offer an amendment providing an effective strategy to close the detention facility located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Keeping the unnecessary facility open comes with significant national security and financial costs. The amendment is co-sponsored by Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Congressman Jim Moran.
"The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is an international eyesore that undermines our national security objectives, damages our credibility with regard to human rights and international law, and is a massive waste of taxpayer dollars," said Smith. "There is no reason to keep this facility open, yet Republicans in Congress continue to put barriers in place that make it impossible for the President to close the facility. It's time that Congress stops playing politics with our national security and with taxpayer dollars and support this amendment. My plan removes unnecessary restrictions and paves a reasonable path forward for closing the facility and restoring our international credibility."
Specifically, the six-point plan (amendment text):
1. Enhances the authority of a senior official in the Pentagon (pursuant to Section 1037 of HR 1960, the FY14 NDAA), who will be appointed by the President, by granting the authority to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The underlying bill provides authority only to coordinate detainee transfers. This official must work with the intelligence community, the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of State, and other interested Departments.
2. All current limitations on the transfer of GTMO detainees in HR 1960 or existing statutes are removed. Sections 1032-34 of HR 1960, which ban the use of funds for the construction or modification of facilities in the United States for GTMO detainees, require certifications by the Secretary of Defense for transfer to foreign countries, and a ban on the transfer of GTMO detainees to the United States, are removed. Parallel restrictions in appropriations statutes and the current Continuing Resolution are also removed.
3. Strikes the request for $247 million for military construction at GTMO in Section 2901 of HR 1960.
4. Requires 30-day notice to Congress and a comprehensive report prior to any transfer of a GTMO detainee to a foreign country or to the United States for prosecution or continued law-of-war detention. The report includes an assessment by the Secretary of Defense and the intelligence community of security concerns about the individual. No transfer notice will be sent to Congress unless it is the consensus opinion of the military and intelligence communities that transfer of the detainee is appropriate.
5. Eliminates all funding for the GTMO detention facility by December 31, 2014.
6. Expedites requirements for a comprehensive plan from the President and the Department of Defense on how to close GTMO (within 60 days of enactment).