Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) filed legislation on Monday that would place a six month freeze on any federal government funding involved in the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
The White House is under considerable pressure and criticism from both sides of the aisle for releasing, without notifying Congress, five “high risk” Taliban leader detainees from Gitmo last week in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was in captivity for five years. Taliban insurgents captured him after he left his post in Afghanistan. Bergdahl’s former platoonmates allege that Bergdahl deserted his unit the night he disappeared.
According to Cruz, “The legislation will provide that, should the president choose to disregard this law, as sadly has been the pattern so many other times, all funds expended in the transfer would be deducted directly from the budget of the executive office of the president.”
Cruz noted in his remarks on the floor that, as a result of potential changing conditions that may arise, which would,
… necessitate the release of an individual prisoner and out of respect for the president’s role in international matters, the bill gives the appropriate means for the president to request from Congress a waiver of the six month bar in an individual case. But finally, because we believe that the release of detainees from Guantanamo, which holds some of the most dangerous people on the planet, is a matter of the gravest import, this legislation would require that for every order for release of a Guantanamo detainee, it must be personally approved by the president. This would ensure that the fullest consideration and deliberation goes into the process.
Cruz added that the last deal done by the administration “was announced to the American people as a fait accompli, with no opportunity for the American people to assess it or scrutinize it.”
He said, “This latest deal constituted negotiating with terrorists to release five senior terrorist leaders and it raises obvious questions.”
Cruz, unsatisfied by the information given by the White House, asked on the floor of the Senate how many murders of Americans the Taliban five were directly or indirectly involved in, as well as how many U.S. soldiers’ lives were taken in the pursuit to capture the five Taliban leaders.
“Given their release, and the president’s admission that there is-quote-‘absolutely a chance that they will return to actively waging war against the United States,’ how many Americans are at risk of being killed directly or indirectly by these terrorists leaders we have just let go?” Cruz asked.