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The president should offer his Guantanamo plan to Congress

The May 1 editorial “Guantanamo, again,” on President Obama’s promise to re-engage Congress regarding the Guantanamo Bay prison, correctly pointed out that he has failed to certify any transfers of terrorist detainees to other countries. In part, this is because his administration agrees that many of the detainees at Guantanamo are simply too dangerous to transfer or release. For other detainees, the House Armed Services Committee has worked closely with the Senate to ensure that the certification requirements to allow a transfer to go forward are reasonable.

I have reached out to the president on many occasions and offered to discuss a path forward. Each time, I have been met with silence. Podium pronouncements aside, neither the president nor his staff have ever approached my committee with a plan, which must be the cornerstone of any effort to close the prison.

My committee will begin considering the fiscal 2014 National Defense Authorization bill this month, with final action in the House expected soon after. If the president is serious about a renewed effort to close the facility, he should seize the opportunity and send up his plan. Tell us his proposal for handling current detainees and how he would treat future terrorist captures.

No one believes that Guantanamo offers the perfect solution to the challenges presented by this unconventional war. It is, however, the solution Americans have arrived at after 10 years of debate, court challenges and legislation. If the president has a better solution, now is the time to offer it.

Buck McKeon, Washington

The writer, a Republican, represents California’s 25th District in the House, where he is chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

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