Pentagon poised to submit plan for closing Guantanamo Bay


The Pentagon is poised to submit a plan to Congress for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, a spokesman said Monday.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the administration will meet the Tuesday deadline for submitting a proposal for closing the facility and moving its terrorist detainees.

“We understand that the deadline is tomorrow, and it’s our intent to meet it,” Davis said.

{mosads}The plan will call for the closure of the detention facility and lay out several options on how to do so, Davis said.

President Obama is pushing to close the prison and fulfill a long-standing campaign promise before leaving office. There are 91 detainees remaining 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.

Davis said the administration’s plan is still to transfer away as many detainees as possible and bring those remaining to the U.S., a step that is opposed by many members of Congress, particularly in the GOP.

Lawmakers for several years have banned any transfers of detainees to the U.S. and placed restrictions on transfers to other countries, arguing that the detainees pose a threat to national security.

Some lawmakers, led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), have said they would be open to bringing detainees to the U.S. if the administration submits a plan. They called for the administration to submit one by Feb. 23.

The Pentagon began looking last year for sites in the U.S. where the detainees could be held, including federal facilities in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas.

“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.).

Jenkins’s state is home to Fort Leavenworth, which has a jail being considered by the Pentagon.

“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,” she said in a statement.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), a leading opponent of closing the prison, also vowed to continue fighting efforts to do so. 

“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,” she said in a statement Monday.

Approval from Congress may be the only way the White House can fulfill Obama’s wish to close the prison.

Amid speculation over whether the president could bring detainees to the U.S. via executive authority, the military said last month it would not take any actions that would violate the law.

In a letter sent to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and military veterans in the House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military “will not take any action contrary to those restrictions” put in place by Congress.

“Current law prohibits the use of funds to ‘transfer, release, or assist in the transfer or release’ of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to or within the United States and prohibits the construction, modification, or acquisition of any facility in the United States to house any Guantanamo detainee,” the Jan. 15 letter from Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville said.

This story was last updated at 4:01 p.m.

Tags John McCain Kelly Ayotte

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