Navy spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said the Obama administration will submit a proposal on Feb. 23 to shut down the detainment facility at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. In addition, the terrorists detained there will be moved. "We understand that the deadline is tomorrow, and it's our intent to meet it," Davis said.
Capt. Davis said that the Pentagon will spell out several options for closing the detention facility, thus complying with a vow President Obama made before taking office. Currently, there remain 91 detainees at the prison. "The plan is to submit to Congress what our thoughts are on the issue and what we see is a way ahead necessary to achieve the closure of Guantanamo and to specifically point out the need for legislative relief," Davis said.
The Obama administration still plans to transfer as many prisoners as possible and bring them to the United States. Republicans have been opposed to bringing the prisoners to U.S. soil. The Guantanamo Bay naval base is on the western end of Cuba, and the use of it in perpetuity was granted to the United States more than 100 years ago.
So far, members of Congress have banned the transfer of prisoners to the United States, while also putting restrictions on transfers to third countries. In recent months, Guantanamo detainees have been released to several countries, including Ghana and Yemen. Some Republicans are not as insistent on preventing their transfer to the U.S. Among them is Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.). They have said they are willing to entertain the idea if the Obama administration submits a plan. Feb. 23 is the deadline.
Sites under consideration are facilities in Colorado, Kansas and South Carolina.
“Submitting a plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay is yet another sign that President Obama is more focused on his legacy than the will of the American people. Republicans and Democrats are united on this issue: bringing the inmates housed at Guantanamo Bay to the United States is a nonstarter," said Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.). Kansas is home to Fort Leavenworth, which is one of the facilities under consideration.
"Further, should the President move detainees to the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, it could jeopardize the operations of the Command and General Staff College. I am confident that Congress will reject any such plan that jeopardizes our national security," Jenkins said in a statement.
Among those adamantly opposed to closing the prison at Guantanamo is Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.). In a statement, Ayotte “Today’s news reports indicate that the president is doubling down on a dangerous plan to close Guantanamo – a move that I will continue to fight in the Senate.”
Congressional approval may be the only way that Obama can fulfill his wishes about the facility. In January, the Pentagon said that it would not violate the law. This came as speculation swirled that Obama would use executive action to bring the terrorists to the United States.
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