Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley will preside over an annual oversight Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. He says one issue he will focus on is President Barack Obama’s “illegal attempts” to move Guantanamo detainees to U.S. prisons.
Grassley, a Republican, says U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is being called to testify. “The attorney general said they’re going to follow the law, well, what is that law?” Grassley asks. “For about five or six years, there’s been amendments on the appropriations bills that said something along this line, that none of the money in this appropriations bill can be used to transfer prisoners to the United States.”
The president wants to close the U.S. military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and move the detainees onto American soil.
“I think there’s even been general counsel at the Department of Defense said, ‘We’re going to follow the law,’ well, that’s what the law is,” Grassley says, “so how can the president do this?” There are allegations the terrorism suspects held at “Gitmo” have been subjected to interrogation techniques that would be illegal if conducted in the U.S. Obama’s plan tentatively calls for the detainees to be moved to 13 maximum-security federal prisons across the U.S., between 30 and 60 individuals at each prison.
Grassley says that plan is plainly against the law. “His plan that he put forth was awful fuzzy,” Grassley says. “Here’s a president that takes an oath to uphold the law and he doesn’t want to follow Congress’ law that we passed.” Grassley says the list of federal prisons likely includes Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from Clinton, Iowa.
Grassley also objects to the president’s plan because the detainees would -not- be subject to any sort of military tribunal, but rather the federal court system. “They’ll be tried in the court of law and then they get the platform of our courtroom to spread their terrorist propaganda,” Grassley says. “Just think of what that’s going to do, encouraging terrorism around the world. Everything that goes on with these terrorists in our courtrooms is going to be made public.”
The hearing is expected to focus on several other issues as well. Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is scheduled for 8:30 A.M. Central time.
(Note: This story was updated at 11:40 to reflect that this is an oversight hearing and other issues will be discussed, along with the closing of the prison.)