Obama Rips Congress For Violating The Constitution By Blocking Him From Closing GITMO

Obama 2015 NDAA signing statement

President Obama attached a signing statement to the 2015 NDAA that shredded Congress and accused the legislative branch of violating the constitutional separation of powers by passing provisions that block him from closing GITMO.

Here is the full text of the president’s signing statement,

Today I have signed into law H.R. 3979, the “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.” I have signed this annual defense authorization legislation because it will provide vital benefits for military personnel and their families, as well as critical contingency authorities needed to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and to respond to emerging needs in the face of evolving terrorist threats and emergent crises worldwide.

Earlier this month, the Department of Defense transferred the last remaining third-country nationals held in U.S. custody in Afghanistan,
ending U.S. detention operations in Afghanistan. Yet halfway around the world, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, remains open for the 13th consecutive year, costing the American people hundreds of millions of dollars each year and undermining America’s standing in the world. As I have said many times, the continued operation of this detention facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists. Closing the detention facility is a national imperative.

I have repeatedly called upon the Congress to work with my Administration to close the detention facility at Guantanamo once and for all. Individuals from across the political spectrum have recognized that the facility should be closed. But instead of removing unwarranted and burdensome restrictions that curtail the executive branch’s options for managing the detainee population, this bill continues them. Section 1032 renews the bar against using appropriated funds to construct or modify any facility in the United States, its territories, or possessions to house any Guantanamo detainee in the custody or under the control of the Department of Defense unless authorized by the Congress. Section 1033 likewise renews the bar against using appropriated funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the United States for any purpose. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, contains similar provisions as well as those relating to existing restrictions on the transfer of detainees abroad.

I have consistently opposed these restrictions and will continue to work with the Congress to remove them. More than 80 percent of detainees at one time held at the detention facility have now been transferred. The executive branch must have the flexibility, with regard to those detainees who remain, to determine when and where to prosecute them, based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests, and when and where to transfer them consistent with our national security and our humane treatment policy. Under certain circumstances, the provisions concerning detainee transfers in both bills would violate constitutional separation of powers principles. In the event that the restrictions on the transfer of detainees operate in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my Administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict.

The restrictions on detainee transfers are another way for Congress to block the president from closing GITMO. The fight isn’t just about the executive power to move detainees. In the bigger picture, this is the latest move in the struggle to close the facility.

The major problem is that the majority of Senate Democrats continue to cave the 9/11 style politics of fear by voting to restrict the president from closing the facility. Only four members of the Democratic caucus voted against the 2015 NDAA. Democrats Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Independent Bernie Sanders voted against the bill. Progressive darling Elizabeth Warren voted for the bill, so did Al Franken.

President Obama has been trying to close GITMO since he first took office. In January of 2009, one of Obama’s first acts in office was to sign an executive order to close GITMO within one year. At the time the president said, “This is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it’s easy, but also when it’s hard.”

As soon as Obama issued his executive order, Democrats and Republicans starting working together to make sure that the national stain known as GITMO stays open. Every time Obama made a move towards closing GITMO a coalition of Democrats, and Republicans blocked him.

Only six Senate Democrats voted to fund closing GITMO in 2011.

The president was correct. Members of Congress who voted for the restrictions on detainee transfer are violating the separation of powers. Some on the left continue to blame President Obama for not closing GITMO, but their blame is misplaced. (No, vetoing the bill is not an option. Congress would easily override an Obama veto of the NDAA.) Congress has refused to fund the closure, and blocked the transfer of detainees. Obama lived up to his end of the bargain. If progressives want to place blame somewhere, they should begin with some of the same people that they are trying to draft to run for president in 2016.

20 Replies to “Obama Rips Congress For Violating The Constitution By Blocking Him From Closing GITMO”

  1. Good Job President Obama: Here is another one. Americans are angry – all of us – from both sides of the isle – we told our elected officials not to bail out the banks again, last time it was $40,000 per man women and child. ..And they did it anyway.
    * Removed key banking regulations from Dodd-Frank, nearly ensuring another banking collapse, and you the tax payer will end up bailing them out again in the amount of $303 trillion.
    Does President Obama have a moral obligation, legal obligation to remove the legislation that funds Wall Street at the expense of killing Americans? – Now there are things that can be done to save us without Congressional approval?

  2. As I seem to recall, the reason most members of Congress didn’t want to close Gitmo was because they didn’t want the inmates to be transferred into their districts’ states’ prisons. Or were there other (actually valid) reasons?

  3. Valid in their pea brains only, they resort to the same and only reason they have offered for anything over the past 6 years… Obama must FAIL.

  4. I agree with President Obama. How are we ever going to establish peaceful relations among our neighbors if we keep facilities open and vote representatives in office who support barbaric activities of other human beings. We are supposed to be a civilized nation and a leader. Two wrongs never make a right.

  5. Remember GITMO makes lots of our tax-payer money, for contractors, that exploded after 9/11.

    Private interests have co-oped our whole legal incarceration system. Voucher prisons anyone???

  6. Now that we’re back to talking to the Cuban government, I wouldn’t be surprised if the President ends the lease on Gitmo.

    Just to stick it to the Congress.

    a warm up for the next 2 years….

  7. Another case of if President Obama tries to do something. He is blamed for both wanting to and being blocked. It does not matter what he does or does not do or accomplish, some will always try to justify treating him with blatant disrespect on both sides. It is amazing how so many are afraid and or jealous of President Obama.

  8. The President cant void the treaty. Since it was ratified by the Senate only the Senate can void it. Now Cuba wants to void the treaty saying they were force to sign it in 1903 but and I may be reading wrong but according to the Vienna Convention on treaties it takes both parties to void a treaty

  9. Nations have unilaterally denounced treaties, which must, under diplomatic custom, be published at the time of denunciation. Under our laws, it is Congress that is supposed to denounce treaties. Bush denounced Kyoto all by himself, but whether that had ratified treaty status at the time is something I don’t recall. The Third Reich *secretly* denounced the Geneva Conventions so that Axis prisoners would continue to enjoy its protections while the Axis could treat Allied prisoners any way they chose. This was General Jodl’s idea. They strung up Jodl. I can think of several Americans who deserve as much.

  10. Let’s just leave Cuba alone and concentrate on what we need for our citizens in the United States. Like homelessness, jobs, less tax breaks for the wealthy. Bring some sanity back to our government and start using common sense when making new budgets. I wish that we could persuade Bernie to run for president. He is the only one that i have read lately that is still talking some sense. God help us all.

  11. I can’t recall the exact figure, yet haven’t more than 200 people been tried, convicted and incarcerated in New York City courts alone, all on terrorism-related cases? It’d be easier to acces

  12. Congress Wrong ? Any person to hold the office of the President Man or Woman. All petitions for E.O. Actions or Order’s are subject to the will of congress and the r the direction and or the reviews of both it and or the courts. America is a not a constitutional monarchy and despite the point obama has cited America is to be a democracy its not. Citing, he says the most important job in a democracy is the job of citizen CHICAGO (AP) — President Barack Obama has cast his vote early for the 2014 midterm elections

    Democracy v/s, Constitutionally elected Representative republic of inalienable rights et al.
    Just after the completion and signing of the Constitution, in reply to a woman’s inquiry as to the type of government the Founders had created, Benjamin Franklin said, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” http://www.c4cg.org/republic.htm

  13. Seam where Obama does have some contextual powers to use his powers even with pending reviews and you would think the congress and the courts would back him, He would have been able to impose some force with China to respect the courts call to comply with the liabilities for the toxic drywall case that fected some 20,000 Americans and like make it clear either take care of the matter or no more imports or something ? , Following Taishan’s failure to appear at enforcement proceedings
    relating to a $2.7 million default judgment entered against it in
    2010, the Court held Taishan in contempt, assessed penalties and
    fees and enjoined Taishan, its affiliates or subsidiaries from
    conducting any business in the United States until Taishan
    participates in the litigation. Citing http://www.chinesedrywall.com/

  14. ms warren also applauds killing unarmed terrorist 10 year olds playing football on gaza beaches because it is obvious 10 year olds who play football on beaches will grow up and want to be treated like human folk and that’s anti-semitic and a violation of jewish rights under the first amendment, freedom of troll baby eating religion..

  15. What are you on about? Your tone has been unwarrantedly martial. If you are going to make claims of this kind, please furnish a link or a usable cite.

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