The Obama administration will take another step toward closing the Guantanamo Bay prison Tuesday when it submits plans to relocate the remaining 91 prisoners to Congress.
The Guantanamo Bay prison closure plan will divide the remaining prisoners into three categories, Department of Defense spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told the Hill Monday.
“We’re going to continue to transfer detainees to other countries who agree to take them, and take steps to ensure that the threat they pose to the U.S. is limited. Second, that we will continue to prosecute those who can be prosecuted. And, third, that there’s this small group of individuals that can neither be safely transferred nor prosecuted.”
Obama has long promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, which some have called the most expensive jail in the world, but the administration faces a serious problem of what to do with the remaining detainees.
The president vowed to close the controversial camp as a campaign promise, citing civil liberty concerns as well as a sky-high budget.
Today, 2,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen guard the remaining 91 prisoners at a staggering cost of $4.4 million a year. Guantanamo’s warden told the Telegraph the high number of staff is needed to maintain security at the remote prison site.
“I don’t have the state police. I don’t have the county sheriff. I don’t have anybody else to call to help me keep things under control here. And it would be several weeks before we could get a unit mobilized and in here.”
The argument over what to do with the remaining prisoners has been the main hurdle in closing the prison.
The Obama administration has prevented any more prisoners from being transferred to Guantanamo, while conservative lawmakers have banned the remaining prisoners from being transferred to the United States.
Lawmakers like Rep. Lynn Jenkins have vowed to fight any Obama plan to go around Congress and transfer the remaining Guantanamo prisoners to the mainland, reports the Hill. They’ve created websites and launched advertising campaigns attacking the president for his plans to close the prison.
“Submitting a plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay is yet another sign that President Obama is more focused on his legacy than the will of the American people.”
For its part, the Obama administration shows no signs of attempting the forced transfer of prisoners to the United States with an overriding executive order, but the question of what to do with the prisoners remains an important issue.
Experts agree the review and transfer process must be accelerated if Guantanamo is to be closed.
More than a third of the remaining prisoners have already been cleared for removal to another country while another group awaits trial under the military commissions.
If Obama is reaching for options, the president could also push for other countries to prosecute and jail detainees who have violated their laws like Hambali, the Indonesian accused of the 2002 bombing the killed 200 people in Bali.
Five of the remaining Guantanamo prisoners are accused of helping plan the 9/11 attacks and face prosecution under the military commissions.
What do you think should be done with the remaining Guantanamo Bay prisoners?
[Photo by Brennan Linsley/File/AP]