According to the AP, President Barack Obama will soon present a new plan to close the Guantanamo detention center in an attempt to finally fulfill a pledge made the first day of his first term in office.
However, defenseone.com states that the White House plan to close the military prison in Guantanamo Bay looks like it’s not coming anytime soon.
A survey meant to determine which U.S. military or civilian prisons might receive the war-on-terror detainees is only at “step one,” writes defenseone.com. The news organization claims that the information comes from a senior Pentagon official who offered new details about the weeks-old assessment effort.
However, even the most vocal advocates for shuttering the prison are concerned that closure will simply mean creating a “Guantanamo north,” moving detainees to a less high-profile location, while continuing to hold them indefinitely.
“Guantanamo is a symbol of injustice because many of the men there have been imprisoned without charge or trial for more than a decade,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Moving the men to a prison in the United States won’t address this injustice; it will just create a new Guantanamo in place of the old one.”
Meanwhile, an effort to thin out the detainee population appears to have bogged down as authorities figure out what to do with those who cannot easily be brought to trial but are considered too dangerous to free, writes the Associated Press (AP). Also, there are some who have been cleared for release but can’t be sent to their home countries.
Expected to be submitted soon to Congress, the administration’s closure plan will include a request to lift a ban on transferring detainees to the U.S.
Officials have not disclosed details, but the Defense Department has scouted potential prison sites in Kansas, South Carolina and elsewhere.
Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said the president still has “a steadfast commitment to closing the Guantanamo detention facility.”
However, this does not mean an end to open-ended detention for some of the prisoners, writes the AP. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said recently that about half the prisoners “are not safe to release, period.”
“Some of the people who are there at Guantanamo Bay have to be detained indefinitely, OK? They just got to be locked up,” Carter said. “So if they’re not locked up in Guantanamo Bay, they need to be locked up somewhere.”