Obama Signs NDAA Bill Containing Key Provisions to Close Guantanamo
Washington, D.C. – Today, President Obama signed into law the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that puts the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on the path to closure. Human Rights First supported the bill, which passed in the Senate by a vote of 84 to 15 and in the House of Representatives by a vote of 350-69.
“Today, President Obama took yet another step to demonstrate his commitment to closing the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,” said Dixon Osburn of Human Rights First. “The defense bill signed into law today balances U.S. national security interests with its legal obligations by clarifying procedures for the foreign transfers of detainees who have been approved for transfer. We support the administration’s efforts to bring the number of the detainees at Guantanamo down to zero.”
The 2014 NDAA replaces confusing and cumbersome foreign transfer restrictions in the current law, which the Obama Administration has said complicate the transfers of detainees to their home or third countries. The clearer set of restrictions is designed to mitigate risks associated with transfers, but without the unnecessary confusion. The provisions maintain a ban on transferring detainees to the U.S. for prosecution, incarceration or emergency medical treatment that the Obama administration opposes.
Earlier this month, the Obama Administration transferred two Sudanese detainees home this week, reducing the detainee population to 158. Of the remaining 158 detainees, 79 have been cleared for transfer by the defense and intelligence agencies. 71 men will undergo a Periodic Review Board to determine if they no longer pose a threat to the U.S. and are now eligible for transfer. The remaining 8 men at Guantanamo either have been convicted and are serving out their sentence, or are currently facing military tribunals at Guantanamo, including KSM and the 9/11 co-conspirators.
Efforts to close Guantanamo have gained bipartisan momentum this year. In a May speech at the National Defense University, President Obama pledged significant steps aimed at closing the island prison. Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and McCain (R-AZ) joined White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on a trip to Guantanamo and together pledged to close the prison. In recent months, President Obama designated Lisa Monaco at the White House to oversee efforts to close Guantanamo, and appointed two special envoys to shepherd this work: Clifford Sloan at the State Department and Paul Lewis at the Defense Department.