House Speaker John Boehner aggressively attacked President Barack Obama after the Wall Street Journal reported Friday the White House is “drafting options” to “overrid[e] a congressional ban” and shut down the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.
“Even as Islamic jihadists are beheading Americans, the White House is so eager to bring these terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the United States that it is examining ways to thwart Congress and unilaterally re-write the law,” Boehner said in a statement. “Not only is this scheme dangerous, it is yet another example of what will be this administration’s legacy of lawlessness.”
Boehner demonstrated an eagerness to turn the report into a campaign issue, declaring that “each and every Democrat should make their position known. Do they support the president’s maneuver to override a bipartisan law, thumb his nose at the American people and the Constitution, and bring these terrorists to U.S. soil?”
The White House took issue with the Journal for stating that it was drafting executive options to “override a congressional ban,” but affirmed that Obama has been clear about his desire to close Guantanamo Bay.
“We do not know what new press reports are referring to when they say the Administration is ‘drafting options’ intended to ‘override a congressional ban.’ It remains true that we continue to object to Congressional restrictions,” Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in an email. “To the greatest extent possible and consistent with our national security interests, detainees will be repatriated or resettled, or prosecuted in Federal courts or military commission proceedings.”
Hayden added, “The Administration will also continue to call on Members of both parties to work together to ensure that Congress lifts the remaining restrictions and enables the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.”
Endangered Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) also seized on the report Friday, vowing to mount a prolonged filibuster and “shut down the Senate” if Obama tries to close Guantanamo, according to remarks in Topeka quoted by The Hill.
The idea of closing Guantanamo, an Obama campaign promise in 2008, polls poorly with the American public. Numerous Democrats have joined Republicans in voting to block funds for closing Guantanamo.
“House Republicans have kept our Pledge to America to keep these terrorists out of the United States, and we will do everything within our power to keep our pledge and hold the administration accountable,” Boehner said.