House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton, whose committee voted to prohibit the use of Defense Department funds to buy the Illinois prison, said he is focused on other matters.
A war is going on. Thats my concern, the Missouri Democrat said.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), who supports keeping the prison open, said the issue remains off the radar screen because the reality is that Congress ultimately lacks the will to close the facility.
There is simply not support from a majority of Members in either house to close Guantánamo and to move the detainees to any place in the U.S., including Thomson, he said. Guantánamo today meets all the standards and well beyond of a facility to hold detainees.
Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) both pointed fingers at Obama for the status of Guantánamo, but for different reasons.
You cant have every issue on the front burner, Levin said. The administration has not really made any important ... effort here in Congress on that issue. They have their priorities, too.
McCain ripped the administration for just really mishandling the policy and said Obamas first mistake was to say he could close the prison in a year without having a policy in place.
He should have said, Were going to sit down together with Republicans and develop a policy. And they didnt. They just flailed around, McCain said.
Some Democrats speculated that the issue is not at a complete standstill, however.
Senate Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein said her sense is that the issue is moving ahead slowly but surely.
The California Democrat noted that the Guantánamo population is winding down as detainees are slowly being transferred to other countries.
Just because there isnt an argument every day, that doesnt meant it wont happen, Feinstein said.
Another House Democrat speculated that once the administration sorts out whether to try self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court in New York, the issue of closing Guantánamo will be worked out shortly afterward.
I suspect that theyll make a decision on the KSM trial after the elections, the lawmaker said.
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