Terrorist Detention Plan Due Tomorrow

Feb 22, 2016
Defense Drumbeat
Tomorrow is the deadline for the White House to deliver a comprehensive detention strategy to Congress, which may include a plan for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The FY 16 NDAA requires that he submit such a plan by February 23, 2016.  

Despite years of campaigning on the issue, President Obama has never proposed a plan outlining where detainees too dangerous to release might be held, or what he would do with new terrorist captures.  This is the President’s opportunity to make his case to the American people and their representatives in Congress.

Here is a quick run-down of the latest developments on the elusive GTMO plan:

November 2015: White House Sends Proposed GTMO Plan back to the Drawing Board 

According to news reports, the White House rejects the Pentagon’s draft GTMO plan because it is too expensive.

At the time, Chairman Thornberry remarked that, “Once again, the President has been forced to confront the hard reality of Islamic terrorism and admit that closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay isn't as easy as it sounds on the campaign trail. Going back to the drawing board on a vague, ill considered 'plan' is a good start.”

Thornberry also suggested that the President “admit that he has no authority to unilaterally close the facility, as Attorney General Lynch did.”

December 2015:  President’s Year End Press Conference Promise

The President committed to delivering what he called “a well-thought-out plan with numbers attached” at his year-end press conference.  He suggested this approach is “is far preferable” in order to “get stuff done with Congress.”

February 2016: A Gentle Reminder

In early February, Chairman Thornberry sent a letter to President Obama reminding him of the legal obligation for the Secretary of Defense to submit a comprehensive detention strategy.  The specific elements required in the report include identifying the location and costs of new facilities, how the plan would keep Americans safe, and what would be done with new terrorist captures.

The specific elements required in the report include the following:

  • The specific facility or facilities that are intended to be used to hold individuals.
  • The estimated costs associated with the detention of individuals, including the costs of:
    • improvements, additions, or changes to each facility;
    • construction of new facilities, if any;
    • maintenance, operation, and sustainment of any such facility;
    • security;
    • military, civilian, and contractor support personnel; and
    • other matters associated with support of detention operations.
  • A plan for the disposition of detainees if the authority to continue detaining an individual were to expire, and an assessment of possible actions that could be taken to mitigate any adverse implications of such a scenario.  
  • A plan for the disposition of individuals currently detained at GTMO.
  • A plan for the disposition of future detainees.
  • The additional authorities necessary to detain an individual pending the end of hostilities or a future determination that such individual no longer require continued detention.
Tomorrow, February 23, 2016: Terrorist Detention Plan Due
Seven years after the President first ordered GTMO closed, and 90 days after the plan was mandated in law, there is no excuse for the President not to give the American people all the information required.  Bringing dangerous terrorists to the United States puts Americans at risk.  The President owes Congress and the American people more than just vague assurances, but a plan to mitigate those risks if he is truly serious about closing GTMO. 
114th Congress