Human Rights Group Urges Obama to Veto Defense Bill Keeping Gitmo Open

Human Rights Group Urges Obama to Veto Defense Bill Keeping Gitmo Open © AP Photo/ Charles Dharapak

03:25 02.10.2015Get short URL

President Barack Obama should veto the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) over provisions that would make it nearly impossible to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay by the end of his second term in office, Human Rights First said in a press release.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The provisions contained in the NDAA extend the absolute ban on transfers from Guantanamo to the United States — even for trial — until December 31, 2016, the release noted.

“After years of dragging his feet on closing Guantanamo, this is a do or die moment for… Obama,” Human Rights First’s Raha Wala stated on Thursday. “Either the president is serious about shuttering the facility and will veto this bill, or he isn’t and will leave office with this stain on his legacy.”

Earlier on Thursday, the US House passed the NDAA by a vote of 270-156. The bill is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate next week.

“This should be a no-brainer for President Obama,” Wala said. “Our nation’s top military experts have said repeatedly that Guantanamo Bay harms our national security.”

The Republican-drafted bill also includes unprecedented detainee transfer bans to certain countries and reinstates a modified version of the overseas transfer certification requirements that made it extremely difficult for the US president to transfer anyone out of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, Human Rights First said.
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated that President Obama would veto the bill if it did not include a pathway to closing the facility.

There are currently 114 detainees remaining at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and 53 of the remaining detainees are cleared for transfer, with another 48 being eligible for Periodic Review Board hearings.

Detainees who are not cleared for transfer, or who will face prosecution in US federal courts, will likely need to be transferred to the United States in order to close the Guantanamo facility, the release added.

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