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President Biden took issue with ongoing restrictions on his ability to move detainees from Guantánamo Bay in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, arguing the restrictions could threaten national security.
“Unfortunately, section 1032 of the Act continues to bar the use of funds to transfer Guantánamo Bay detainees to the custody or effective control of certain foreign countries,” Biden said in a statement during the signing of the NDAA Monday.
Congress has long restricted the president’s ability to move Guantánamo Bay detainees, most notably after former President Barack Obama promised to close the facility during his second term in office. Obama was hampered in that promise by the restricted use of funds, a move some lawmakers argued was necessary to prevent potentially dangerous detainees from threatening American soil.
This year’s massive $770 billion defense bill, which was signed by Biden on Monday, will keep those restrictions in place.
Biden signed the legislation while noting the “longstanding position of the executive branch that these provisions unduly impair the ability of the executive branch to determine when and where to prosecute Guantánamo Bay detainees and where to send them upon release.”
Biden’s statement also argued that the continued restrictions will hamper the executive branch’s ability to comply with a court order mandating the release of a detainee, while other limitations will make it difficult to negotiate potential transfers with foreign countries. The president added that such limitations “may in some cases make it difficult to effectuate the transfer of detainees in a manner that does not threaten national security.”
“I urge the Congress to eliminate these restrictions as soon as possible,” Biden said.