Reminder: Congress Blocks Closure of Gitmo Again

I wasn't going to blog today, but since many of you will be facing your families tonight and tomorrow, and your discussion may or may not involve President Obama's record, I wanted to touch a subject that is somewhat of a pet peeve of mine.

A provision contained within the bill that put a tear in John Boehner's beer this week, the bill which includes a 2 month extension of payroll tax-cuts and unemployment benefits, is a provision that specifically prohibits the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and President Obama has issued a statement reiterating his opposition to this provision.

In this bill, the Congress has once again included provisions that would bar the use of appropriated funds for transfers of Guantanamo detainees into the United States (section 8119 of Division A), as well as transfers to the custody or effective control of foreign countries unless specified conditions are met (section 8120 of Division A). These provisions are similar to others found in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. My Administration has repeatedly communicated my objections to these provisions, including my view that they could, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles. In approving this bill, I reiterate the objections my Administration has raised regarding these provisions, my intent to interpret and apply them in a manner that avoids constitutional conflicts, and the promise that my Administration will continue to work towards their repeal.

To recap:

- President Obama signed an executive order on the day he took office in 2009 to close Guantanamo Bay

- This is the fourth time since 2009 that Congress has voted to block the closure of Guantanamo Bay

- Congress has voted overwhelmingly, in a bipartisan fashion, each of those four times to block the closure of Guantanamo Bay

The good news is, there is one provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that grants the president the discretion to hold civilian trials for detainees. And while some would argue that it shouldn't be a matter of discretion, I would point out that having the discretion is better than having no choice other than military trials, which is what we have right now.

Now, please resume your regular schedule of beer and eggnog. We'll see you on the other side.