House Democrats drop effort to close Guantanamo
House Democrats have dropped plans to use the coming Defense Supplemental Appropriations legislation to permanently close the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, RAW STORY has learned. One House Democrat sitting on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee promised the party would return to the issue later in the year when taking up the standard Defense funding bill.
"Guantanamo is not included in this bill," confirmed an Appropriations aide to RAW STORY yesterday.
Rep. John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who chairs the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, had announced his plans in a video posted by the group Stand Up Congress in February to use the Defense Supplemental bill to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, where alleged terrorists have been held since 2002.
"There are a couple of other things we're considering, I don't know if this will come about," Murtha said in the webcast. "We're thinking of putting conditions that you have to close Guantanamo, I'm sending people down there, they've invited me to go down. I think that's a worldwide problem. I think worldwide they think Guantanamo is a blot on our credibility, and I think it should be closed."
His office referred questions to Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), who has been tasked with handling the Guantanamo Bay issue.
Moran's office told RAW STORY that the Defense Supplemental legislation could not be used to close Guantanamo Bay.
"There are no accounts in the supplemental that deal with Guantanamo, so we can't cut those funds," explained Austin Durrer, Moran's press secretary.
Instead, he promised action later in the year.
"We have to use the Defense Appropriations bill that funds the Department of Defense, and for the detention facility," Durrer added.
He also promised hearings on the issue next month.
While the Democrats have not been able to move ahead and quickly shutter the detention site, the US Armed Forces have advanced in their efforts to bring charges against individuals accused of terrorism at Guantanamo Bay.
"Pentagon spokesmen announced that a combatant status review tribunal hearing for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, perhaps the most well-known Al Qaeda suspect in U.S. custody, was held Saturday. On Friday, the military held hearings for Abu Faraj Libbi and Ramzi Binalshibh. A fourth hearing for an unspecified suspect was to have been held Monday," the Los Angeles Times wrote yesterday.