Guantanamo Bay

A summary of Obama's GITMO closure announcement

from CNN,

President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility after delivering his plan to Congress to achieve a goal that has long eluded his presidency. The blueprint comes seven years after Obama made an Oval Office vow to permanently shutter the prison for enemy combatants. The Plan: Obama outlined a blueprint that involves transferring the bulk of remaining detainees to other countries and moving the rest -- who can't be transferred abroad because they're deemed too dangerous -- to an as-yet-undetermined detention facility in the United States. Obama's reasons: Obama ... said emptying the prison would move the country past what he described as a troubled era of wartime behavior. "The plan we're putting forward today isn't just about closing the facility at Guantanamo. It's not just about dealing with the current group of detainees, which is a complex piece of business because of the manner in which they were originally apprehended and what happened. This is about closing a chapter in our history," he said during short remarks at the White House. "Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values," Obama said. "It undermines our standing in the world. It is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law." Obama bemoaned the opposition to closing the facility, saying when he entered office there was bipartisan agreement on the issue. "Because we had bipartisan support, I wanted to make sure that we did it right," Obama said in explaining why it took so long to put a plan before Congress. Opposition: However, many Republicans -- and some Democrats -- have long been wary of closing the facility and having to transfer remaining inmates. Republicans in Congress wasted no time in voicing their opposition to the administration's proposal. - Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said the President's plan "fails to provide critical details required by law," adding "It is against the law -- and it will stay against the law -- to transfer terrorist detainees to American soil." - John McCain, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, also criticized the strategy, saying it was "not a credible plan for closing Guantanamo, let alone a coherent policy to deal with future terrorist detainees." McCain, a rare Republican proponent of closing Guantanamo, still hammered Obama's plan Tuesday as a "vague menu of options" for reaching that goal. - Most Republican lawmakers, however, remain staunchly opposed to moving detainees into the United States and insisted upon language in two bills recently signed by Obama -- the defense authorization and defense appropriations bills -- that bars the transfer of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S. Next Steps: "The Senate Armed Services Committee will closely scrutinize and hold hearings on the details of what the President submitted today, but we can say now with confidence that the President has missed a major chance to convince the Congress and the American people that he has a responsible plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," McCain said. While White House officials have refused to rule out unilateral action to close the Guantanamo prison -- and Obama said Tuesday he would use "all legal tools to deal with the remaining detainees" -- others in the administration have said firmly that current law disallows any detainee transfers onto U.S. soil. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, whose department worked for months to compile Tuesday's plan, said on CNN last month, "It's against the law now to establish another detention facility." What about Cuba? U.S. officials expect that Obama, who is scheduled to visit Cuba next month, will be pressured by the regime there to return control of Guantanamo back to the island. A group of Republican senators, including Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio of Florida, said Tuesday they were introducing a measure that would prevent Obama from ceding control of the facility back to Cuba without congressional approval. Released detainees: A major concern of lawmakers has been the risk that released detainees will return to terror. Underscoring the threat, on Tuesday Spain, working with Moroccan intelligence officials, announced the arrest of four individuals in anti-terror operations in Spain and Morocco, including one who had spent time at Guantanamo. Another released Gitmo Detainee Now the Face of Al Qaeda. With 10 of the remaining 91 detainees expected to undergo military tribunals, that leaves another 47 detainees who could be approved by an interagency review board to be sent home or to a third country. Last month, 10 Yemenis held at Guantanamo were released and sent to Oman. All 10 were held in U.S. custody for at least a decade without being charged. It was the largest release of prisoners at the U.S. military detention center since 2009. Oman has taken 20 detainees who are banned from going back to their home countries, more than any other of the 25 countries that have taken in detainees. Another four inmates were sent away earlier last month.

Detainee transfers: U.S. officials said Tuesday morning the plan would identify 13 potential U.S. sites for transfers. Options for housing prisoners in the U.S. include the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado; the military prison in Leavenworth, Kansas; and the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Pentagon officials visited those sites last year to develop "prototype" plans for converting them into detention facilities. The additional sites included in Tuesday's plan include other federal and military prisons. More than half of the remaining detainees are Yemeni nationals. The administration is prohibited by law from transferring Guantanamo detainees back home.

Costs: The U.S. officials Tuesday said the plan would save the U.S. government between $65 million and $85 million per year compared to housing detainees at Guantanamo. Obama on Tuesday cited the high costs of keeping prisoners at the Cuba facility as a reason for closing the prison, in a new argument the administration is making.

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