Pentagon Prepares to Submit Plan to Shutter Guantanamo Bay

The Pentagon is expected to submit to Congress Tuesday President Barack Obama’s plan to shutter the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

The president, who campaigned in 2009 to shut down the U.S. naval facility in Cuba, is hoping to make good on his promise, which is sure to ignite a partisan battle on Capitol Hill.

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on June 27, 2013. (Photo: AP)
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on June 27, 2013. (Photo: AP)

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the Obama administration will meet the Tuesday deadline for sending Congress a proposal for closing the facility, which still houses 91 detainees.

“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 told The Hill.

According to Davis, the White House’s plan is to transfer away as many detainees, and bring the remainder to the U.S., a step that is opposed by many in Congress, particularly within the Republican Party.

For many years, lawmakers have banned any transfer of detainees into the United States. In addition, they have placed restrictions on transfers to other countries, insisting that Gitmo detainees pose a threat to national security.

However, some in Congress, including Arizona Sen. John McCain (R), have said they are open to the possibility of bringing detainees into the U.S. as long as the president submits a plan by Feb. 23.

The Pentagon began its search for U.S. sites where detainees could be held. Those locations include federal facilities in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas.

Other lawmakers, though, are opposed to the plan.

“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,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said Monday in a statement.

Congressional approval is likely the only way in which Obama could achieve his goal of closing the Cuban facility. As questions were raised over whether or not the president could use executive order to close the facility, the military said last month that it would not take any action that would violate the law, The Hill reported.

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