The Campaign Spot

Obama May Simply Ignore Congress on Guantanamo Bay

President Obama prepares for impending Republican control of Congress by taking an additional step to ensure Congress no longer has a role in writing national policy.

The White House is drafting options that would allow President Barack Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said.

Such a move would be the latest and potentially most dramatic use of executive power by the president in his second term. It would likely provoke a sharp reaction from lawmakers, who have repeatedly barred the transfer of detainees to the U.S.

There is no wiggle room on this one; the position of a strong majority of Congress is exceedingly clear. Back in 2009, the Democrat-controlled Senate voted 90 to 6 to remove funding for the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to U.S. facilities. Every defense authorization bill since then has included language banning the transfer of the prisoners to the United States.

Nor is Congress defying the public’s will on this issue:

Twenty-nine percent of Americans support closing the terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and moving its prisoners to U.S. prisons, while two in three (66%) oppose the idea. . . . Despite the president’s continued commitment to its closure, Americans’ views have not changed much in the four times Gallup has asked them about this issue.

But a second-term president in his final two years, who’s already suffered losses in the midterms, can’t be punished any further at the ballot box after Louisiana’s runoff. After that, he’ll just do what he pleases, regardless of Congress or public opinion, certain that history will judge him as the right one.

Those Greek columns at the 2008 Denver Democratic National Convention really were fit for a king, weren’t they?

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