Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, Congressman Adam Smith, made the following statement in response to the President’s comments on closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:
“I fully agree with and support the President’s desire to shutter the detention facility located at Guantanamo Bay, but Congress has repeatedly and relentlessly made it impossible to close the facility. Congress has blocked the use of funds to transfer detainees to the United States, where they can be tried in front of our highly effective Federal Court System. Congress has also placed severe restrictions on transferring detainees who have been cleared for transfer to a host country or returned home. The President has made a pledge to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, but Congress has obstructed his ability to finish the job. This needs to end.
“Until the facility is closed, it will continue to serve as our attempt to avoid the rule of law, and continue to undermine our moral standing in the world, which damages our efforts to defend our values and protect human rights. It also undermines our national security because our allies are less likely to share valuable detainees and it serves as a rally cry and recruiting tool for our enemies.
“The facility is also becoming woefully expensive. Operation costs are growing. Facilities are deteriorating, and, as inmates age, significant medical upgrades are needed. These upgrades will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take years to complete. Why would we spend hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars to upkeep an expensive facility that only serves to undermine our national security? We shouldn’t. It’s time to begin to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.”