WASHINGTON — President Obama’s legal advisers, confronting the prospect of new restrictions on the transfer of Guantánamo detainees, are debating whether to recommend that he issue a signing statement asserting that his executive powers would allow him to bypass the restrictions, according to several officials.
If Mr. Obama were to issue such a statement, it could represent a more aggressive use of unilateral executive powers than what he exerted in his first two years in office. The issue has arisen as the Republican Party takes control of the House.
Last month, while still under Democratic control, Congressincluded the detainee transfer restrictions — which would make it harder for the administration to achieve its goal of closing the prison at the military base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — in a major defense bill it sent to Mr. Obama. He could act on the measure by the end of the week.
One provision bars the military from using its funds to transfer detainees to the United States, making it harder to prosecute them in federal court. Another prohibits the transfer of detainees to any other country unless the defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, certifies that the country has met a strict set of security conditions.