Nearly five years after President Obama missed his self-imposed deadline to close the American detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by the end of his first year in office, he is considering overriding Congress to close the facility, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The plan to close Guantanamo no later than January 20, 2010 faltered after it met fierce Republican resistance and opponents angrily denounced any transfer of detainees to facilities on U.S. soil. In 2010, Congress used the National Defense Authorization Act – the annual military policy bill – to prohibit transferring detainees to U.S. facilities.
Still, Obama revived his effort to close Guantanamo last year, and more than half of the remaining 149 detainees there have been cleared for transfer to other countries. But, the Journal reports, U.S. officials say at least some detainees will have to be transferred to the U.S. if the facility is to close.
According to officials quoted in the Journal’s report, Obama hasn’t given up on seeking congressional approval to shutter the prison, but he’s weighing executive action in the absence of legislative authorization. The officials told the Journal that the president has two options for executive action: he could veto the National Defense Authorization Act, or he could sign it but issue a signing statement holding that the ban on detainee transfers infringes on his authority as commander in chief.
Given that Obama is virtually certain to face an even less friendly Congress after November, a legislative solution will likely prove elusive, leaving executive action as his most realistic option for delivering on his promise to close Guantanamo.