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By Miriam Raftery

April 16, 2009 (Washington, DC) - U.S. Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has issued a statement opposing the Obama Administration's request for $30 million in supplemental funding for the closure of Guantanamo Bay.

"The Obama Administration's plan to close Guantanamo Bay appears to be moving forward without any legitimate consideration for the potential consequences,” a statement on Hunter’s website dated April 10th reads. “Since President Obama signed the Executive Order to close the facility, there has been no formal consultation with Congress. In fact, respective Committees in the House and Senate have yet to hold a single hearing to review the complex issues associated with closing Guantanamo Bay, including the transfer of terrorists in custody and future detainee operations.”

President Barack Obama has ordered closure of the infamous prison at Guantanamo Bay by the end of the year following mounting evidence confirming torture of prisoners. There are presently about 240 prisoners housed at the facility. The Obama administration this week released documents revealing that Bush administration officials authorized the use of torture that included slamming prisoners’ heads against walls, leaving prisoners naked and cold for prolonged periods, and waterboarding, or simulated drowning.

Obama has ordered a halt to torture techniques but also indicated he will shield from prosecution CIA members who followed orders and relied on Bush administration legal interpretations. THE American Civil Libeties Union (ACLU)has called for Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate detainee abuse and torture, potentially leading to prosecution of Bush administration officials who ordered the torture.

The issue of what to do with the remaining detainees, meanwhile, remains unresolved.

“To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend – because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America,” Obama said in an address to a joint session of Congress on February 24th. “That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists – because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger.”

But Hunter argued, “If the President is serious about closing Guantanamo Bay without jeopardizing our security, then the Administration needs to work directly with Congress to create a detention process that keeps detainees off U.S. soil and prevents terrorists from returning to the battlefield. Until there is a plan in place and detainee operations are thoroughly reviewed, Congress should withhold funding to proceed with the closure of the facility."

The Obama Administration's war supplemental request includes $30 million for the Department of Justice to implement Executive Orders for the closure of Guantanamo Bay. But Hunter noted that since the Executive Orders were signed in January 2009, there have been no hearings by Congress despite the fact that consideration is being given to transferring detainees to U.S.-based facilities, including San Diego's Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Hunter has introduced H.R. 633, legislation to prohibit the transfer of detainees to either of these instillations.

Congress is expected to consider the war supplemental request in the near future.

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