White House Close to Completing Plan for Shuttering Prison at Guantánamo

first_imgThe White House in the coming days is expected to send Congress a plan for closing the military prison at Guantánamo, even as President Obama’s options for carrying it out seem limited.On Wednesday, press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama could try to sidestep Congress if lawmakers reject the plan to close the facility and send some detainees to the United States, reported the Hill.“At this point, I would not take anything off the table in terms of the president doing everything that he can to achieve this critically important national security objective,” Earnest told reporters.In response, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts (R) threatened to block the administration’s nominees from advancing in the Senate if Obama resorted to executive action in an attempt to shut down the prison.“An act of Congress would be required to move detainees to the mainland,” Roberts said in a statement. “I will place holds on any nominee necessary to prevent this unilateral action.”One step the president is not expected to take is vetoing the reworked version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill now advancing through Congress. When he vetoed the original defense bill last month over its reliance on DOD’s overseas contingency operations account to evade the statutory spending caps, the president also cited the measure’s restrictions on closing the detention facility at Guantánamo as a factor in his decision.But now that congressional leaders and the White House have reached a two-year deal to exceed the Budget Control Act limits for defense and non-defense spending, it appears unlikely Obama would veto the defense authorization bill again, reported CQ.The policy bill would prohibit the transfer of detainees to the United States, or the construction or modification of facilities in the United States for housing the detainees. It also returns to stricter standards that would freeze the remaining population at Guantánamo for at least the next year. The legislation would require DOD to submit a plan within 90 days for the current and future detention of individuals, including a “specific facility or facilities that are intended to be used” for holding detainees.A plan from the Obama administration for closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay has been expected since the summer. DOD already has surveyed several candidate sites to house the detainees, including Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, S.C., and a federal supermax facility in Florence, Colo.The administration’s proposal is not expected to recommend a single U.S. site for transferring prisoners but, instead, will include a list of alternatives and the costs associated with each. Dan Cohen AUTHORlast_img

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