The Obama administration plans to restart transfers of detainees out of Guantánamo Bay as part of President Obama’s efforts to close the prison, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The president is planning to lift the restrictions on sending detainees to Yemen in the coming weeks, the Journal reports, citing unidentified U.S. officials.
A White House official would not confirm the report that the administration will lift the Yemen restrictions.
“We're not commenting on press reports of transfers associated with Guantanamo,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement Wednesday.
In a speech at National Defense University on Thursday, Obama will lay out his case for closing Guantánamo, which he has said is no longer necessary and hurts U.S. interests abroad.
Obama will also touch on the legal justification for using drones to target terrorists in his speech. Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderMichigan Republicans sue over US House district lines State courts become battlegrounds in redistricting fights New Hampshire Republicans advance map with substantially redrawn districts MORE told Congress Wednesday that the U.S. has killed four Americans in drone attacks, in the first public admission by the Obama administration.
The president signed an executive order in his first term to close Guantánamo, but he generated little momentum to do so amid congressional opposition.
Gitmo opponents in Congress have urged Obama in recent weeks to do what he can on his own to release detainees in the prison to third countries.
There are 86 detainees at Guantánamo who have been cleared for release. Congress has passed restrictions on where the detainees can be sent, but there is a waiver that gives the administration some leeway if national security concerns are allayed.
The instability in Yemen and the operations of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) led the administration to stop sending detainees to Yemen.
Critics of releasing Gitmo detainees have warned that released detainees will be allowed to rejoin the fight against the U.S.