President Obama gave a speech at the National Archives yesterday in an attempt to repair damage done by the high-profile break with Senate Democrats this week over the closing of the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility.
After the Obama administration’s failure to present any semblance of a plan for the disposition of the 241 terrorists housed at the facility, the Senate voted 90-6 on Wednesday in favor of stripping $80 million in funding from the War Supplemental the White House requested to facilitate closure of the $200 million, state-of-the-art facility.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reacted strongly to Obama’s speech in a noon press conference.
“The Senate spoke overwhelmingly [Wednesday] on the issue of the necessity of having a plan before closing Guantanamo,” McConnell said. “And with all due respect to the president, what we need here is not a speech, but a plan. And the plan was what was clearly missing from the speech here today.”
“What is driving this issue?” McConnell continued. “In my view, what is driving this issue is a quest for popularity in Europe more than continuing policies that demonstrably made America safe since 9/11. … So what I think he ought to do, and my recommendation to him is, move away from the arbitrary timeline for closing Guantanamo.”
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House Republican leader, spoke about the missing plan and the President’s lofty rhetoric.
“Today, the President spoke a great deal about trust, but he did not provide Americans with a clear plan for what to do with these terrorists,” Boehner said. “What he did make clear is that despite overwhelming opposition from the American people and a bipartisan majority here in Congress, he’s moving ahead with either releasing or importing the terrorists currently held at the Guantanamo Bay prison into the United States. … Two weeks ago, Republicans introduced the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act to ensure they won’t end up in our communities. This legislation ensures that governors and state legislators must pre-approve the transfer of prisoners into their states. More than 150 Republicans have co-sponsored this bill thus far, and I think the Congress needs to pass it.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the President on his misleading statements in the speech about the proposed release of the Uighur terrorists into the United States.
“President Obama’s speech is also troubling in that it selectively cites ‘the court order to release seventeen Uighur detainees [that] took place last fall’ without acknowledging what happened on appeal,” Sessions said. “The President failed to mention that the court of appeals reversed the lower court’s order that called for release of the Uighurs into the United States. The appeals court could not have been more clear when it wrote: ‘[N]ever in the history of habeas corpus has any court thought it had the power to order an alien held overseas brought into the sovereign territory of a nation and released into the general population. As we have also said, in the United States, who can come in and on what terms is the exclusive province of the political branches.’”
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Chairman of the House Republican Conference, spoke about recent warnings from the Pentagon and FBI Director Robert Muller.
“The President is renewing his effort to close Guantanamo Bay despite a recent Pentagon report that nearly one out of every seven terrorist detainees previously released from Guantanamo Bay may have returned to their terrorist activity," Pence said. "The Director of the FBI raised concerns about transferring these men to our local communities. Despite these warnings, the President continues to bow to world opinion. Let me say emphatically, ‘Mr. President, public safety comes before public relations.’ The American people don’t want to know how closing Guantanamo Bay will make us more popular, they want to know how closing Guantanamo Bay will make us safer.”
Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, weighed in on what he called a disappointing speech.
“The White House needs a new calendar — bashing the policies that have kept our nation safe from another 9-11 is not a national security strategy,” Bond said. “The election is over, President Obama won, and now he needs to tell the American people his plan to keep our country safe. The American people need more than a speech to protect them against terrorists, especially when the government wants to import terrorist detainees into our neighborhoods.”
Democrats Vote for Coverup of Pelosi’s CIA Accusations
House Democrats voted unanimously to block an investigation into allegations made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week that the CIA had lied to Congress during briefings on enhanced interrogation techniques.
Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.) said of the vote, “House Democrats have made it clear they are more concerned about self-preservation than accountability. It is deeply disappointing that the majority will allow such a serious accusation from the Speaker go unchecked. It must not be the standard of this body that political power supersedes principle and responsibility.
“As with any suggestion of serious criminal action, the Speaker’s claims should be fully investigated,” Price concluded. “By continuing this cover-up, the White House and the majority in Congress only solidify a cloud of slander over the heads of our intelligence professionals. We must, once and for all, clear the air and let the men and women charged with keeping us safe get back to their important work.”
Two Republicans voted in favor of the Democrat coverup: Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.). The rest of the vote was straight down party lines.