Late last year, Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas and a handful of his fellow Republican members of Congress sent a letter to the Joint Chiefs of Staff urging them to “seek appropriate legal advice before following any executive order to transfer Guantanamo Bay … detainees to the United States,” which Pompeo explained was a way of telling the military leaders that the members of Congress “have their back” if they choose to defy Obama administration orders to close the detention facility.
Now that Obama has sent Congress a plan for closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, Pompeo is repeating his warnings, telling Newsmax’s Steve Malzberg today that if the president were to carry out such a plan through an executive order, “I don’t know” if the military will comply with it.
If Obama were to issue such an executive order, Pompeo said, “The men and women of our military who he would ask to carry out that mission would have to look very carefully at whether the direction that they were being given was consistent with what their counsel was telling them about what was legal. I hope the president won’t put anybody in that position and won’t present risk to America, but we’ve watched the president behave in lawless ways.”
The president, he said, needs to “make sure he understands that we’re not going to let that happen.”
“Are you saying that there’s a possibility, remote as it may be, that after consultation with whomever, that the military members who would be charged with closing that facility down may not do it, may disobey the order?” Malzberg asked.
“You know, I served, Steve, in the military for quite a while,” Pompeo replied, “and if there’s one thing you understand it’s chain of command and following orders, but there’s another duty: When you take an oath to the Constitution and to defend America, your oath is different … So it would be an incredibly difficult spot that they would find themselves in, and I just literally pray that no commander in chief would ever put the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in that kind of position.”
Malzberg pressed him again on if he was saying that the military might disobey an executive order closing the prison.
“I don’t know, Steve,” Pompeo responded, “it’s difficult to answer yes or know.”