ACLU Praises Obama's Veto of Defense Bill Restricting Guantánamo Transfers

October 22, 2015 4:15 pm

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WASHINGTON — President Obama today vetoed the annual defense spending bill, which contained restrictions on transferring prisoners out of Guantánamo to thwart efforts to close the prison.

Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, had this reaction:

“If Guantánamo is ever to be closed, now is the time. And today the president clearly did the right thing by rejecting the bill’s restrictions on transferring Guantánamo prisoners who have been locked up without charge or trial for years on end.

“Now Congress needs to send back the president a bill that will let him close Guantánamo and end indefinite detention, and he needs to take decisive action to make his promise to close the prison a reality. He needs to do this soon, before his legacy is irreparably tarnished by the stain of Guantánamo.”

The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2016, would impose the most comprehensive set of obstacles to closing Guantánamo that Congress has ever passed. It would continue to ban all transfers to the United States, and it would effectively reinstate overseas transfer requirements that a bipartisan majority of Congress ended two years ago, such as certifications from the secretary of defense.

The bill also includes new restrictions, including bans on transfers to specific countries, as well as certain reporting requirements that could discourage foreign countries from accepting detainees for resettlement.

At the ceremony where the president vetoed the bill, he said that it “specifically impeded our ability to close Guantánamo in a way that I have repeatedly argued is counterproductive to our efforts to defeat terrorism around the world. Guantánamo is one of the premiere mechanisms for jihadists to recruit. It’s time for us to close it.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Matt Thornberry has requested that the House vote on whether to override the veto on November 5.

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