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Congress Deals Major Blow to Obama's Gitmo Pledge

The entrance to Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay is seen on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010. Canadian Omar Khadr, 24, who has been in U.S. custody since he was a teenager, could see an end to eight years of legal limbo on Monday as his war crimes trial resumes amid talk of a possible last-minute plea deal to spare him a life sentence. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Colin Perkel)

A federal spending bill expected to pass in the House of Representatives Wednesday is set to block President Barack Obama's stated goal of closing the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The massive spending bill was released by Democrats early Wednesday morning and would expressly prohibit the Obama administration from spending any money to transfer detainees to the United States or to purchase a replacement prison on U.S. soil as the president had planned.

A disturbing new report released this week suggests that up to 25 percent of released Gitmo detainees have returned to their terrorist roots.

The spending measure is designed to prevent the administration from taking action on closing Guantanamo over the next year, and with Republicans about to retake majority control in the House of Representatives, Obama's first presidential order will be limited to merely a symbolic gesture.

Further, the administration's lack of follow-through in closing the Guantanamo detention facility will only further anger the president's dwindling base of support on the liberal left. If Obama chooses to run for re-election in 2012, he'll have to explain why one of his chief campaign pledges went unfinished during his first term in office.

In addition, the Washington Times notes that the spending bill "explicitly prohibits the transfer of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

"None of the funds provided to the Department of Justice in this or any prior Act shall be available for the acquisition of any facility that is to be used wholly or in part for the incarceration or detention of any individual detained at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as of June 24, 2009," the bill says. ...

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told a Senate panel that the administration was ready to move forward but needed Congress to approve the money to buy a new prison in the United States. The department was eyeing a facility in Illinois, Mr. Obama's home state, as a likely candidate for the massive conversion that would be required to hold detainees.

The detainee decision is part of the massive full-year spending bill Congress will consider to fund the government for fiscal 2011. The fiscal year began Oct. 1, and Congress has not passed a single one of the dozen appropriations bills yet, which has left the government running on stopgap funding.

The spending bill will also freeze total federal discretionary funding at 2010 levels -- a total of $1.09 trillion.

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