The White House wants to quickly cut the number of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. One man is standing in the way: President Obama’s Defense Secretary, Ash Carter.
Carter and the White House are increasingly at odds about how to whittle down the number of detainees held in Guantánamo Bay, hampering the administration’s push to close the detention center by the end of its term.
The White House believes that Carter is unwilling to be accountable for the transfer of Guantánamo detainees and their conduct post-release, even to the point of defying the president’s policy on the detention facility, a White House source told The Daily Beast.
Shutting down Gitmo remains a glaring, unfinished Obama campaign promise, and its closure goes through Carter’s office. Carter’s signature is needed for the release of 52 of the 116 detainees cleared for leaving the detention facility by several government agencies that have reviewed their files.
Current law bars federal funds from being used to transfer Guantánamo Bay prisoners to American soil, meaning that the administration has to finding foreign countries willing to take the detainees. The 52 cleared detainees have been approved for release through an extensive interagency process, which includes the Pentagon.
But it is Carter’s signature that leads to a detainee’s release. The complaint heard at the Pentagon is Carter and the Defense Department are not moving fast enough for a White House that hopes to have the question of closing the facility answered by the end of its term. So far, Carter has only signed off on a handful of detainees at one time and has waited weeks to act on those cases.
As one defense official explained, Carter “is definitely under pressure… The White House, if it had its way, would like to see more regular signatures.”
There’s even speculation that if the president follows through on his threat to veto the defense budget bill to win changes on detainee policy, he will ask that the law be amended so that the president, not the defense secretary, has the final say on detainee transfers.
Read more at THE DAILY BEAST.