President Barack Obama is still committed to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center and will be presenting Congress with some details on doing that before he leaves office, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
Asked if closing the prison is possible with so little time left in office and no plan, Earnest responded, “There is a plan to close Guantanamo Bay. I think we laid it out.”
“There are detainees that have been cleared for transfer. There are detainees that can be prosecuted. There are detainees that can be safely released,” Earnest said. “Properly determining how to deal with each of these individuals is our strategy.”
One of Guantanamo Bay's two courthouses is seen through a broken window at Camp Justice at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. (AP Photo/Toronto Star, Michelle Shephard)
He said that the strategy includes finding locations to keep the prisoners inside the United States and that there is a “sense of urgency,” with just a little over a year in office left for Obama.
“There are elements of it that we are still putting together and eventually present to Congress in an effort to try to convince them to stop making it harder for us to complete this critically important task,” Earnest said. “That’s something we are going to continue to work on. It has involved scouting locations inside the United States where these facilities that held dangerous people, they already are holding terrorists. So the question is, could those facilities be used to close the prison Guantanamo Bay?”
He went on to say that Congress has “sabotaged” efforts to close the prison.
“I think the president has made clear he is willing to use all of the elements of his authority to make progress on areas he has identified,” he said. “This would certainly be one of these priorities. But there is no denying Congress has made this much more difficult.”
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