09.28.16

Gardner, Roberts, Scott Send Letter to GAO Over Illegal Funds Spent to Relocate GTMO Detainees

Washington, DC – Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Tim Scott (R-SC) today sent a letter to the Honorable Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), requesting an opinion on whether or not the DoD violated the Consolidated Appropriations Act – and thus the Antideficiency Act – by spending federal funds to survey potential sites to relocate Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United Sates. 

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, which was signed into law in December of 2015, specifically prohibits appropriated funds from being used “to transfer, release, or assist in the transfer or release to or within the United States . . . [any Guantanamo Bay detainee]” and appropriated funds from being used “to construct, acquire, or modify any facility in the United States . . . to house any . . . [detainee].”

The letter reads in full: 

The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro

Comptroller General

U.S. Government Accountability Office

441 G Street, NW

Washington, DC 20548

Dear Mr. Dodaro:

This letter is to request your opinion on whether the Department of Defense (DoD), by making expenditures surveying potential sites in three states for the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees, violated Section 527 or 528 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016. 

As was widely reported, the DoD spent federal funds studying sites in Colorado, Kansas, and South Carolina to relocate prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay despite specific prohibitions in law. The DoD spent the most money – $11,064.33 – surveying a facility in Florence, CO, as a possible relocation site. These expenditures were made in contravention of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016, which prohibits the use of any funds to assist in the transfer of any individual detained at Guantanamo Bay to the United States as well as the use of any funds to prepare any facility in the United States to house any Guantanamo detainee. Pub. L. No. 114-92, §§ 1031-1032, 129 Stat. 735, 968 (2015).

 

Moreover, Sections 527 and 528 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, reinforce the prohibitions set forth in the fiscal 2016 NDAA. Specifically, Section 527 prohibits the DoD from using appropriated funds “to transfer, release, or assist in the transfer or release to or within the United States . . . [any Guantanamo Bay detainee],” and Section 528 prohibits the DoD from using appropriated funds “to construct, acquire, or modify any facility in the United States . . . to house any . . . [detainee].” Pub. L. No. 114-113, 129 Stat. 2242, 2329 (2015). The meaning of Sections 527 and 528 is clear and unambiguous; no appropriated funds are legally available for the relocation of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States. 

Given that the DoD spent appropriated funds to survey potential relocation sites for Guantanamo detainees when no money was available for that purpose, we respectfully request your opinion as to whether the DoD violated the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, and if so, whether the DoD also violated the Antideficiency Act, 31 U.S.C. § 1341(a). Thank you for your timely assistance.