Just in case it couldn’t be more clear, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the armed forces of the United States said "no, we won't help" to the president in a letter regarding his possible use of an executive order to close the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and then bring the remaining detainees to the United States.
Quoting the law, Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr., the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote:
“Current law prohibits the use of funds to 'transfer, release or assist in the transfer or release' of detainees of Guantanamo Bay to or within the United States, and prohibits the construction, modification or acquisition of any facility within the United States to house any Guantanamo detainee. The Joint Staff will not take any action contrary to those restrictions."
Sixteen members of the U.S. House of Representatives with military experience had written to the Joint Chiefs regarding the legal question of whether or not they would follow an executive order by President Barack Obama to close Gitmo by relocating the remaining detainees to the U.S.
The president is now alone in his fantasy of bringing detainees to U.S. shores.
Without the cooperation of the military, no physical transfer of Gitmo detainees can take place.
The president said in his end-of-year press conference, "We will wait until Congress has definitively said no to a well-thought-out plan with numbers attached to it before we say anything definitive about my executive authority here."
Apparently, the Joint Chiefs beat Congress to the punch. There is no authority of the president to move anybody anywhere against the law.
Far from just an opinion, the Joint Chiefs are factually correct in their decision. Unless an order, even coming from the commander in chief, is legal, ethical and moral, the nation’s most responsible generals may not carry it out.
The letter is a first response in what could be a legal argument that could reach the attorney general and/or the Supreme Court.
With the balance of power in the highest court tilting slightly to the left now that conservative Antonin Scalia has passed away and his seat is vacant for the foreseeable future, any decision made by that body in question of the president’s Constitutional authority would probably side with him.
Without reaction to the letter, the Obama administration is surely scrambling for ideas on what next to do.
The really disappointing aspect of Obama’s obsession with closing Gitmo is the fact that he has forgotten the reason for the facility in the first place.
Sept. 11, 2001, is the reason for Gitmo. It is the reason for detaining as many potential sources of important information (that could save many lives) as possible. It is the reason so many lives have been lost and others changed forever.
Why has Obama forsaken the safety and security of the American people by releasing unlawful combatant Islamists who want to kill Americans before the Global War on Terror is won?
Thirty percent of all released Gitmo detainees are known or are suspected of returning to the fight. If that isn’t bad enough, there is NO information on the other 70 percent. Where are they; your neighborhood?
The president’s reckless behavior, from releasing dangerous enemies to wanting to bring others to the U.S. is proof that his priorities are confused. Thankfully, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have just reminded him that even he is bound by law, and they will not help him break it.
Montgomery Granger is a three-times mobilized U.S. Army major (Ret.) and author of "Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior." Amazon, Blog, Facebook, Twitter: @mjgranger1
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