Obama to Reboot Gitmo Detainee Transfers as Prelude to Closing Prison, WSJ Says

As part of his efforts to shut down the controversial prison, President Obama will restart transfers of Guantanamo Bay detainees, according to The Hill, citing a Wall Street Journal report.

And despite the Pentagon’s request for $450 million to maintain and upgrade Gitmo, as TheBlaze reported earlier today.

In this pool photo, reviewed by the U.S. military, and shot through glass, a guard watches over Guantanamo detainees inside the exercise yard at Camp 5 detention facility at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, May 31, 2009. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Obama reportedly plans to end restrictions on sending detainees to Yemen in the coming weeks, according to the Journal, citing unidentified U.S. officials. (A White House official would not confirm the lifting of the Yemen restrictions while Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement Wednesday that his office is “not commenting on press reports of transfers associated with Guantanamo.”)

A hooded demonstrator is seen at a protest calling for the closure of the Guntanamo Bay detention facility infront of the White House on May 18, 2013 in Washington, D.C. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

More from The Hill:

In a speech at National Defense University on Thursday, Obama will lay out his case for closing Guantanamo, 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 Holder 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 Guantanamo 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.