At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch was asked by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) about President Obama’s wish to transfer terrorists from the military’s prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the United States.
Grassley, the Judiciary Committee Chairman, asked Lynch what the current law on the matter is and how she would advise the president.
“Does the Department of Justice believe that the president has the authority to violate the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) and transfer terrorists from Guantanamo to prisons and can you assure us that this will not happen while you’re Attorney General? Now, that last question I think I better rephrase, would you be giving advice to the president that he can do it under current law?” Grassley asked.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. With respect to the president’s policy put forth to close Guantanamo Bay, as has been discussed over several cycles, this is, of course, an issue of long-standing discussion and interest both in the administration and within our intelligence community and our foreign counterparts and I certainly support the administration’s policy in this,” Lynch said.
“As is noted in what was submitted to Congress, while there certainly are the ongoing efforts to transfer individuals from Guantanamo Bay, individuals are not able to be transferred from Guantanamo Bay to a facility on U.S. soil. That is prohibited by the NDAA as you have noted, Mr. Chairman.”
“And I believe the president’s policy indicates a desire to work with Congress to implement any necessary changes that would have to be taken before this action could be taken.”
While the Attorney General is correct that prisoners can not be transferred to the United States without Congress changing the law, her assertion that President Obama has a desire to work with Congress seems contrary to his past threats to use executive orders to close the prison.