President Obama’s plan to shutter the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, ran into a buzz saw of opposition on Tuesday, underscoring how difficult it will be for him to fulfill a major campaign promise in his final year in office.
Mere minutes after the president sent Congress his blueprint to empty the controversial facility and move detainees to the United States, Republican leaders declared it dead on arrival.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) best summed up the attitudes of his colleagues: He crumpled up the proposal and tossed it in the trash.
“This is what I think of the president’s plan to send terrorists to the United States,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.
Obama’s plan also received a lukewarm reception from Democrats facing reelection in November.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who is running in a tough race, said he supports closing the prison but cautioned that detainees should be moved to military facilities and not civilian prisons in his home state.
Liberal Democrats came out strongly in favor of the plan, but centrists refrained from taking a stance.
“I do think closing Guantánamo would deprive jihadists of a successful recruiting tool,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “But there are serious legal barriers and legitimate security concerns to be dealt with. … In general, I support the closure of Guantánamo, but the details matter.”
Coons said he would decide whether to support the plan once he reviews it.