The House of Representatives has ignored a plea by President Barack Obama to close Guantanamo Bay and voted to keep the infamous prison open. The House went so far as to make it more difficult to move Yemeni prisoners that federal authorities believe are safe enough to be set free by blocking transfers from the jail for one year.
"The Defense Department should not transfer detainees to Yemen because they represent some of the most dangerous terrorists known in the world," said Rep. Jackie Walorski.
Rep. Adam Smith disagrees.
"Not everybody that we rounded up and took to Guantanamo, unfortunately, turned out to be the very dangerous terrorists that we thought they were," Smith said. "Determining that if there is any minimal threat whatsoever we're simply going to hold them forever is, well, quite frankly, un-American. That is contrary to our values to say we're going to hold somebody indefinitely -- I gather forever -- because we think there might possibly be some risk. That's not the way the Constitution is supposed to work."
Democrats argued that closing the facility is the right thing to do because it is expensive, unnecessary and violates the Constitution, The Huffington Post reported. "It is a stain on our national honor," said Rep. Jerry Nadler. He also called Gitmo "an affront" to American values.
"The bottom line is we don't need Guantanamo," Smith said. "Guantanamo was set up in the first place, in the hopes that because it wasn't actually on American soil, we could somehow hold people outside the normal bounds of due process in the Constitution, but the [Supreme] Court ruled otherwise. There's no benefit there. There's no greater rights in the U.S. than there are in Guantanamo. We just continue to have this prison that has been set up in a way that the international community cannot stand."
Republicans argue that keeping the facility open is a matter of national security. "These terrorist detainees pose a very real danger to our security in America. They mean us real harm," said Rep. Brad Wenstrup.