Pentagon Has Plan to Close Gitmo; Congress Probably Still Won’t Go for It

Photo: John Moore/2009 Getty Images

President Obama has been trying to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay since he took office. Now the Department of Defense is sending a plan to Congress to try to make that happen before the end of his term. According to The Hill, the plan won’t look all that different from what the administration has wanted to do all along: send low-level detainees back to accepting countries and transfer the remaining prisoners to facilities on U.S. soil.

The latter part of that plan — bringing Gitmo prisoners into the U.S.— has long been a nonstarter for the GOP-controlled Congress. Back in November, Congress had passed the National Defense Authorization Bill, which nixed certain countries, including Yemen, Libya, and Somalia, from the list of states that could take in detainees. Obama signed that bill into law, even though it complicated efforts to transfer Gitmo detainees. But that NDA also required the Obama administration to submit an official plan to close Gitmo by February 23 — a deadline the Pentagon has now confirmed it will meet. 

The Pentagon’s plan will include studies of specific sites and cost estimates to prepare facilities to accept the remaining detainees. Two military prisons, Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, and another in Charleston, South Carolina, are among the proposed locations, according to the Times. 

Though the proposal hasn’t been delivered yet, some GOP leaders have already said they still won’t ever go for a plan that involves bringing detainees to the U.S. There are currently 91 prisoners still being held in Guantánamo; after 13 were released last month, the number of those detained dropped below 100 since the prison opened in 2002. 

DOD Will Present Plan to Close Gitmo