US still has time to close Guantanamo before Obama leaves

White House announces US has enough time to close down Guantanamo Bay military prison before President Obama leaves office

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Detainees in orange jumpsuits sit in a holding area under the watchful eyes of military police during in-processing at the temporary detention facility at Camp X-Ray of Naval Base Guantanamo Bay on January 11 2002

Updated Nov 7, 2015

The United States can still close Guantanamo Bay detention centre before Obama ends his presidency, said the White House late on Friday, underlining that it continues to work on transferring inmates from the centre.

The White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated that the US is focusing on reaching an agreement with countries around the world to transfer 53 proper Guantanamo prisoners out of the military site in Cuba.

He also added that some transfers would actualise by the end of the year.

"Absolutely it's still possible. It's still something that we are working very hard to accomplish," Earnest said.

Last month Obama vetoed a $612 billion annual defense bill that renews provisions hindering the president from closing the controversial Guantanamo Bay Prison.

Obama said the legislation “specifically impedes [United States’] ability to close Guantanamo in a way that I have repeatedly argued is counterproductive to our efforts to defeat terrorism around the world.”

Obama also said that he disagreed with provisions in the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA) that would have limited his ability to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre before he leaves office in January 2017

On the other hand, US officials have considered transferring Guantanamo detainees to a facility in Kansas, Republican senators Tim Scott of South Carolina and Cory Gardner of Colorado, states that are also potential targets for transfers, also strongly opposed the plan.

Meanwhile, 28 retired senior US military officers petitioned a letter to the US president, supporting the idea of closing Guantanamo, however, stating that some concerns over opposing the idea of  bringing detainees to the United States.

"Our prisons house hundreds of convicted terrorists. None has ever escaped," they said.

During his presidential campaign and throughout his term in office, US President Barack Obama has vowed several times to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.

TRTWorld and agencies