Acknowledging the Obvious, White House Says Guantanamo Will Not Close
The White House conceded on Tuesday that President Barack Obama will not succeed in his efforts to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before leaving office, removing the option of taking executive action to achieve one of his earliest campaign promises. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, however, that it’s possible the administration will transfer additional detainees to foreign countries, following Monday’s transfer of 10 prisoners to Oman. While the odds of closing Guantanamo had all but disappeared with just days left in the White House, Mr. Obama had not publicly ruled out the possibility.
After taking office in January 2009 Mr. Obama vowed to close Guantanamo Bay by the end of his first year in the White House, a move he said would eliminate what he viewed as a target of international animosity and anti-American sentiment. But his effort was blunted by bipartisan opposition in Congress and failed to gain traction after lawmakers passed a ban on transferring any detainees to prisons in the U.S. White House officials argued that closing the facility was not possible without imprisoning some of the detainees to the U.S. Mr. Obama made a renewed push in his second term, putting forward a new plan for closure that involved Congress lifting the ban on transfers to the U.S. He also directed his aides to come up with executive options with which he could circumvent Congress and close the prison unilaterally. Those options were considered for some time. But ultimately, administration officials said, Mr. Obama determined that ordering closure via executive action would put those who carried out those orders at risk of legal action.
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