While you were sleeping: Obama transfers 5 Gitmo detainees to UAE
There are times I think Obama does this sort of thing because he knows we'll go ballistic.
Late Sunday night (!), the Pentagon announced that 5 Guantanamo detainees were being transferred to the United Arab Emirates. This, despite the fact that today, the president will sign the Defense Reauthorization Act, which contains specific language that would restrict such transfers.
The Pentagon announced Sunday evening that it has transferred five Guantánamo detainees to the United Arab Emirates, just ahead of President Obama signing a defense bill that would place restrictions on moving prisoners from the facility.
"The United States is grateful to the Government of the United Arab Emirates for its willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility," said Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook.
"The United States coordinated with the Government of the United Arab Emirates to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures."
The transferred detainees are Ali Ahmad Muhammad al-Razihi, Khalid Abd-al-Jabbar Muhammad Uthman al-Qadasi, Adil Said al-Hajj Ubayd al-Busays, Sulayman Awad Bin Uqayl al-Nahdi and Fahmi Salem Said al-Asani.
The five men are Yemenis who had been held for more than a decade at the detention facility, with ages ranging from 38 to 46, according to the Washington Post.
The release brings the total detainee population at the detention facility in Cuba down to 107, approaching the White House's goal of reaching 100 by the end of the year.
It also comes before Obama signs the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which will make it harder to transfer the detainees.
Obama is running out of time to close Guantánamo before leaving office. His administration is poised to send Congress a plan for closing the facility and bringing the remaining detainees to a prison in the United States.
Republicans have signaled that Obama's plan will be dead on arrival in Congress and have warned the president not to attempt to close the prison through an executive order.
The five Yemenis moved over the weekend were unanimously approved for transfer by an interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force comprised of the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
The release brings the list of detainees approved for transfer down to 48. The majority on that list — 39 — are Yemenis, but due to congressional restrictions as well as ongoing conflict in Yemen, they cannot be released to their country.
What Obama is doing is legal, but contemptible. The bill does not become law until his signature is on it. But the intent of Congress is as plain as the ears on Obama's head. He is spitting in the face of Congress, the American people, and especially those opponents who have been fighting his ill-considered notion to close Guantanamo and send the prisoners to the US mainland.
You can hear the president cackling; announced on a Sunday night so that no comments from those opposing this transfer could be gathered. Beating the clock on the transfers by simply delaying the signing of the bill. And deliberately defying the intent of Congress to prevent the transfers.
Because he's president. And he knows better than Congress.
A clear majority - 53% - of the American people oppose the president's plan to close the prison camp. Only 29% support the move. Only his elevated sense of his own moral superiority is guiding him. Congress opposes; the people oppose; but this only feeds his ego.
It appears he will do almost anything to close Guantanamo, including foisting the remaining prisoners on to some luckless state that has a federal prison. Who's going to stop him?