President Barack Obama is playing hardball with Congress in an effort to close the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with White House warning Wednesday he "will veto" a defense bill that forces him to keep it open.
After announcing plans to close the facility in his first year in office, Obama caved to Congress on the issue year after year, signing defense bills that restrict his ability to transfer detainees or prosecute them on American soil. But with time starting to run out on his presidency, he's apparently not going to roll over any more.
"In hundreds of terrorism-related cases – and as illustrated once again this week – our federal courts have proven themselves to be more than capable of administering justice," Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.
"Nearly a half billion dollars per year is an unacceptable price to pay for a facility that wastes our resources, creates friction with our allies, and undermines our standing in the world. This needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions and enables the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. We call on Members of both parties to work together to ensure the United States meets this goal. If this year's Defense Authorization bill continues unwarranted restrictions regarding Guantanamo detainees, the President will veto the bill."
It's worth noting that this veto threat is of the stronger "will veto" variety rather than the typical "advisers would recommend" threat.
Obama supports an amendment by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, to strip out the restrictions, Carney said.
The defense authorization bill has passed every year for more than 50 years.