Obama's Final SOTU Preview: Guantanamo Closure Plan

While others are looking back and writing about the year that was I’ve got my focus squarely on what is to come in 2016 and one of the first big things that will happen is President Obama’s final State of the Union address.

Two of the major items that Obama is likely to cover during his remarks to a joint session of Congress on January 12th are his pending executive order(s) curtailing the 2nd amendment rights of Americans and his long-delayed plan to close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and bring dozens of the worlds worst Islamic terrorists into the country. This would include 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Obama’s Guantanamo closure plan, which has been drafted by the Pentagon, was to have been made public a month ago but was sent back for revisions by the White House because of its estimated $600+ million price tag.  Since late Summer the Obama administration has been looking at using the federal SuperMax prison in Colorado, a closed Colorado state prison, the stockade at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, and the Navy brig in Charleston, SC as potential domestic prisons that could be used to house the more than 60 Guantanamo detainees who are too dangerous to release to another country.

The prospects of these sites being used to house some of the worst terrorists that have been captured on the battlefield has drawn major objections from elected officials in South Carolina, Kansas, and Colorado.

These sites came into the Guantanamo discussion following an August report by the Washington Post which details how an official at the Justice Department threw cold water on the administrations previous plan to send the terrorist detainees to Thomson Prison(AUSP Thomson) in Northwest Illinois. That DOJ official cited the legal difficulties in using Thomson as a site to house Gitmo terrorists due to Congresses prohibitions on the use of any funds to purchase or make ready any prison inside the country for the purpose of housing the terrorists and a ban on their being brought into the country..

Because of the administration rejecting the Pentagon’s Gitmo closure plan due to its cost and White House press secretary Josh Ernest saying repeatedly during the month of November that Obama was prepared to use executive orders to circumvent Congresses restrictions on Guantanamo it is entirely probable that come the State of the Union speech Obama will announce that he’s going to use an executive order(s) to close Gitmo and bring some, if not all, of the terrorist that cannot be released to another country to Thomson given that the feds have already paid $165 million for it and it is ready to start taking in prisoners(The CRomnibus of last year contained $58.7 million for Thomson’s activation, and the SurrenderBus has a slush fund of $444-530 million that the Bureau of Prisons can allocate to Thomson.)  There are currently 100 minimum security prisoners there who are being used as laborers. The executive order(s) would theoretically only be used if Congress rejected any plan to close Guantanamo Obama puts forth in the next few weeks.(It is also a possibility that Obama could disperse the terrorists amongst Thomson, Ft. Leavenworth, and the Navy brig as a means to lessen public and congressional objections.)

In November President Obama vetoed the annual National Defense Authorization Act because it contained, as past NDAA’s have, the prohibitions on the spending of funds for any domestic prison for the terrorists and the ban on their being able to step foot inside the US. Obama also vetoed the NDAA in order to get the domestic sequestration budget caps removed, something that GOP congressional leaders did as part of the SurrenderBus that was passed the week before Christmas.  President Obama has repeatedly cried that those Gitmo restrictions are unconstitutional usurpations of his authority as Commander-in-Chief.

During a press conference as the SurrenderBus was being sent to his desk Obama said that members of Congress would surprise people and could support his plans to close Gitmo and bring the terrorists held there into the country because the cost of keeping Gitmo open, plus the excuse that it is used as a recruiting tool for terrorist organizations are somehow compelling  enough reasons to get Congress, namely Republicans, to totally reverse course on the issue and drop all of their objections to Gitmo’s closure and the bringing in of the terrorists to domestic prison(s).

Speaker [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ] has said that Gitmo should be kept open permanently, and [mc_name name=’Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S001184′ ](R-SC) warned people on this Saturday’s edition of Fox & Friends to be aware that something could happen related to Gitmo during the holiday lull; Thus it is extremely unlikely Obama will turn Congress around to his way of seeing things on Guantanamo.

Furthermore Obama’s attempts at painting congresses Gitmo restrictions as unconstitutional are going to fall flat on its face given the plain language contained in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution which  gives Congress the power, “To declare war, grant letters of Marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning capture on land and water.” Article I, Section 8 also gives Congress the power, “To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.” These combined with Congresses explicit power of the purse makes any possible argument Obama might make against the Gitmo restrictions a complete farce.

As you beloved readers of USofArn.com already know since the first week of June 2014 I have been attempting to get emails, memos, and other communications as well as financial documents related to Thomson prison from the Bureau of Prisons and the Justice Department via the Freedom of Information Act to no avail.  The BoP and DOJ have told me that no emails or other communications exist between them and congresswoman [mc_name name=’Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001286′ ](D-IL) and Sen. “Little” Dick Durbin(D-IL) relating to Thomson, which is ridiculous since that FOIA covered a time period that began before Bustos was sworn in as a Member of Congress(Thomson Prison is in her district).  It is unbelievable that no communications exist between the BoP and the two members of Congress responsible for Thomson Prison getting nearly all of its funding.  Whats worse is the letter the DOJ sent me last month saying that the Guantanamo closure plan and where to send the terrorists wasn’t a pressing public or media issue, that is complete and utter hogwash.  The DOJ and BOP even refuse to answer this reporters questions regarding the Gitmo closure plan about simple things like are any Gitmo terrorist in the US currently and how would the bringing in of those terrorists comport with the Supreme Court’s Eisentrager ruling which would grant those terrorists immediate access to all Constitutional rights and protections the second they touched foot on US soil. For 10-12 weeks the DOJ and BOP have completely ignored all emails and phone calls I’ve made seeking those answers. Thomson’s warden Donald Hudson continues to refuse to answer my questions and emails as well.

The stonewalling and outright lies that I’ve been told by the Obama admin relating to Thomson have me convinced that all the talk in recent months about the Navy brig or Ft. Leavenworth are head fakes meant to keep people from paying any attention to what the Obama admin has wanted to do for years, and that is to bring the Gitmo detainees to rural Illinois.  I am also convinced that the reason my latest questions and most recent FOIA are being ignored is because the administration wants to be the one to make public the contents of the Gitmo closure plan and not a simple conservative blogger who lives in Northern Illinois.

cross posted from USofArn.com