Obama eyes remaining Guantánamo detainees for transfers

President Obama plans to make 2015 a landmark year in reducing the number of Guantánamo Bay detainees, with plans to announce a flurry of transfers in the coming weeks, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.


The president plans to transfer an unspecified number of detainees to foreign countries early next year, and possibly before the end of 2014, senior administration officials told the newspaper.

The Journal said the president's strategy is to release as many detainees as possible, and argues it is costing too much to keep the detention facility open for the remaining detainees, and then take executive action to close it.

“It does not make sense for us to spend millions of dollars per individual when we have a way of solving this problem that’s more consistent with our values,” the president said Sunday on CNN.

There are now 132 detainees left, and 64 of those have already been cleared by a review panel for release, but need countries to accept them.

The near-term transfers would likely take place during outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelThe Afghan Air Force: When 'Buy American' goes wrong Overnight Defense: Navy medic killed after wounding 2 sailors in Maryland shooting | Dems push Biden for limits on military gear transferred to police | First day of talks on Iran deal 'constructive' 140 national security leaders call for 9/11-style panel to review Jan. 6 attack MORE's tenure; his replacement, Ashton Carter, won't be confirmed until at least January.

The Defense secretary is responsible for personally verifying that a released detainee won't return to the battlefield, and for signing off on any transfer, with 30 days' notice to appropriate congressional committees.

Hagel had expressed reluctance on signing off on the detainee transfers in May, which reportedly led to a clash between him and the administration that played a role in his departure. However, he has signed off on at least 16 transfers since November.

Carter will surely face questions from the Senate Armed Service Committee members who oppose closing the facility during his confirmation hearing. Some members of the committee are predicting a fight.

"There will be one hell of a fight between the president and Republicans and Democrats in 2015 over Guantánamo Bay," said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOn The Money: Biden announces bipartisan deal on infrastructure, but Democratic leaders hold out for more Trump's biggest political obstacle is Trump The Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population MORE (R-S.C.) on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

“With almost 30 percent of former Guantanamo detainees having reengaged or suspected of reengaging in terrorism, American troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else should never have to confront a former Guantanamo detainee on the battlefield," Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteDemocrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Sununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate Lobbying world MORE (R-N.H.) said in a statement Saturday.