By Karla E General
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, United States – The United States Senate voted 90-6 against the $80 million spending bill that would have financed the closure of Guantanamo Bay by January 2010, as well as the transfer of the 240 detainees that remain there. The vote came just one day before President Barack Obama was scheduled to outline his plan for the transfer of the 240 terrorism suspects detained at the facility located in Cuba.
Obama had requested the $80 million last month, an amount necessary for the Pentagon and Justice Department to close the detention facility, which is known by international human rights groups for its use of harsh interrogation techniques and detention of suspects without trial. The funds were requested without an immediate and detailed plan of action for the transfer of the detainees and without a definitive answer on whether the detainees would be transferred to U.S. soil. Republicans have criticized Obama’s quest to shut down Guantanamo, saying that human rights abuses that have occurred at the facility are a thing of the past.
The 90-6 vote followed testimony to Congress by FBI Director Robert Mueller who stated: “The concerns we have about individuals who may support terrorism being in the United States run from concerns about providing financing to terrorists, [and] radicalizing others … [as well as] the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States.”
Similarly, Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota said: “The American people don’t want these men walking the streets of America’s neighborhoods. The American people don’t want these detainees held at a military base or federal prison in their backyard either.”
In spite of the vote, Democrats remain hopeful that President Obama will devise a detailed plan that meets the objectives of both Democrats and Republicans. “The president’s very capable of putting together a plan that I think will win the approval of a majority of members of Congress,” said Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson. “I can’t imagine that he won’t.”