WASHINGTON – Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today took the Obama administration to task for its failure to meet its self-imposed deadline for issuing a report on its detainee policy for Guantanamo.

In his remarks on the Senate floor, the Utah Republican chided the administration for its poor planning on the issue that is vital to national security.

“It is easy to say that Guantanamo can be closed when you are a candidate for president,” Hatch said. “It is even easier to sign an order on your first full day in office as president that says in 12 months Guantanamo will close. What is hard is taking a deliberative methodical approach and then formulating the proper plan to balance the safety of this country with the needs of lawful detention.”

Sen. Hatch’s complete remarks on the Senate floor follow:

Mr. President, today, I rise today to express my concerns about the Administration’s failure to make the deadline of issuing a report on the Guantanamo detainee policy. Today’s deadline, like the January 2010 closure deadline, was self-imposed. It concerns me that the administration maintains that closure will occur even though the execution of this process has been less than stellar.

In January, on his first full day in office, President Obama signed the order to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention facility in 12 months. The President created separate task forces to examine closure and detainee issues. These task forces were developed and staffed by the Obama administration to achieve successful closure in one year. The product of this review was to include a report on a broader detainee policy.

Today marks the first deadline in this process. It was set to be the date of release and publication of the task force report on a broader detainee policy going forward. The administration’s failure to meet the deadline appears to me to be the “canary in the coal mine” that a January closure of Guantanamo without a detailed plan is an exercise in futility.

Yet the White House downplays the missed deadline and publicly states that the January closure is still on track. Really, is it? Despite not having a plan and missing a deadline for a key integral part of the closure process, the administration claims it can still meet the overall deadline of closure by January. I find that notion suspect at best and completely absurd at worst.

In May, a Gallup poll indicated that 65 percent of Americans oppose the closure of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. Even so, the administration intends to follow its timeline and close Guantanamo by January 2010. The task force examining the cases of the remaining 229 detainees has only reviewed half of the necessary caseload thus far. The Justice Department hopes to complete its review by an October reporting deadline, but that benchmark is quickly slipping away too. This review process has taken twice the amount of time the administration thought it would take. Yet keeping Guantanamo open beyond January is inexplicably still not an option in the administration’s view.

Recently, media reports are circulating that the administration’s Guantanamo closure plan has been fraught with political miscalculation and internal dissension. Moreover, the complex nature of the issue will undoubtedly force the transfer of detainees inside the United States. Since the announcement of the President’s intention to close Guantanamo, I have joined other Senators in pointing out the lack planning and clear miscalculation of this decision. That pool has grown and a groundswell of bipartisan support is signaling the White House to “pump the brakes.”

In May, the Senate voted 90-6 to strip out funding in the FY2010 War Spending Request that would authorize $80 million for the transfer of detainees to the United States. Now that the failure to meet this deadline has been reported by outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times, the administration still doesn’t get it. Senior administration officials are letting hubris get in the way. This is neither the proper manner nor the right time to close Guantanamo.

There should have been more study of this issue prior to setting us on a course for closure. It is easy to say that Guantanamo can be closed when you are a candidate for President. It is even easier to sign an order on your first full day in office as President that says in 12 months Guantanamo WILL close. What is hard is taking a deliberative methodical approach and then formulating the proper plan to balance the safety of this country with the needs of lawful detention. Had the administration conducted a careful and thorough review of this issue, the conclusion would have been that Guantanamo fulfills both requirements. Instead, the administration has painted itself into a corner.

Clearly, the administration miscalculated and underestimated the depth and breadth of this issue. From the onset, the administration has tried to reverse-engineer the process for closing Guantanamo – starting from the end and working backwards. If changes are not made immediately, administration officials will force this issue on American cities and towns in just 185 days. They will limp across the finish line on January 22, 2010, and herald their accomplishment as a victory despite its ill-conceived planning and “Three Stooges-like” manner of execution.

Guantanamo is still an asset to this country. It complies with international treaties and exceeds the standards of domestic corrections facilities. I don’t see how anyone who is honest about the matter can characterize it any other way, especially when there is not a sufficient replacement located domestically to meet the Justice Department’s needs. It is my fervent hope that the President and the Attorney General will reconsider their ill-considered plan to close Guantanamo and recognize the obvious – that a $200-million-dollar facility that is already operational and in compliance with international treaties should not be shuttered.

Mr. President, I yield the floor