Mass. delegation backs Obama push to shutter Guantanamo Bay

  • WARREN

  • MCGOVERN

Associated Press
Published: 3/9/2016 10:38:49 PM

BOSTON — President Barack Obama’s latest push to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is finding strong support among Massachusetts’ all-Democratic Congressional delegation even as nationwide Republicans — and some Democrats — are dead set against the plan.

A survey of the 11-member delegation by The Associated Press found nearly all agree with Obama.

U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas echoed many of her colleagues by describing Guantanamo as costly, inhumane, and a threat to America’s safety.

“The facility’s continued existence has long been a rallying cry for terrorist organizations around the world, inspiring extremists to threaten the United States, our interests and our allies,” said Tsongas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee representing the state’s 5th Congressional District.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, an Iraq War veteran who also serves on the House Armed Services Committee, said he was encouraged by Obama’s renewed pitch to close Guantanamo during the final year of his presidency, calling the facility “a recruiting tool for terrorists” like al-Qaida.

“It continues to be a blemish on our national reputation and a stain on our proudly held values of democracy and basic rights,” said Moulton, who represents the 6th Congressional District.

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey also argued that Guantanamo helps terror groups attract new recruits and undermines support from international allies.

Not every member of the delegation was as enthusiastic about Obama’s plan.

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch said he understands the desire to close Guantanamo, but said some the 91 remaining detainees “are zealous battlefield commanders of terrorist groups and we must be careful to assure that their custody is handled in a secure and responsible manner.”

In a final attempt to fulfill a key campaign promise, Obama last month submitted a plan for closing the detention center to Congress.

The plan would require persuading a skeptical Congress to change the law that prohibits moving detainees accused of violent extremist acts to U.S. soil.

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern is among the most enthusiastic supporters of Obama’s proposal.

McGovern, who has long championed the easing of relations between the United States and Cuba, issued a series of tweets after Obama announced the renewed effort to shutter Guantanamo.

Congress must work with the White House and the U.S. Department of Defense to close the facility and “end this dark chapter in our history,” tweeted McGovern, who represents the 2nd Congressional District.

Closing Guantanamo would also “make us safer, help restore US standing as human rights champion and save taxpayers millions,” he added.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano, Joe Kennedy, Katherine Clark and Richard Neal also support closing Guantanamo.


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