President Obama on Thursday vowed to collaborate “meticulously” with Congress to shutter Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, citing the cost factor of housing and guarding the detainees in a speech from a global economic summit in Manila.
He said, various media reported: “We are spending millions of dollars per detainee and it’s not necessary for us to keep our people safe.”
Closing the base has been one of Obama’s long-held political aspirations.
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In January 2009, Obama signed an executive order that read: “It is in the interests of the United States that the executive branch undertake a prompt and thorough review of the factual and legal basis for the continued detention of all individuals currently held at Guantanamo, and of whether their continued detention is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and in the interests of justice. … New diplomatic efforts may result in an appropriate disposition of a substantial number of individuals currently detained at Guantanamo.”
The order also called for a review to “determine, on a rolling basis and as promptly as possible … to transfer or release the individuals consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”
Just a few days ago, and on the heels of the Paris terror attacks, Obama transferred five Guantanamo Bay detainees who hailed from Yemen to the United Arab Emirates, as WND reported.
Overnight, he raised the specter of closing the base yet again, sparking speculation about how he might accomplish the feat in the face of rising ISIS threats and U.S. concerns over national security.
Obama vowed at the summit his administration was “going to go through meticulously with Congress what our options are,” and determine the fate of the base.
That comment follows one by the Pentagon on Wednesday that stated, the Star Tribune reported: “[We’re] currently working to refine additional cost estimates for different aspects of detainee operations. While we don’t have a specific timeline, the plan will be delivered to Congress as soon as it is complete.”
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Congress has been largely unwilling to consider the shuttering of the facility, while U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch just announced it would be illegal to transfer any of the Gitmo detainees to American soil. That’s raised the possibility of Obama to execute a unilateral order to close the base – a move, in fact, that was just raised to White House press secretary Josh Earnest via a reporter’s question.
In a briefing about 10 days ago, Earnest hinted at an Obama executive order to shutter the base, saying, as Town Hall reported: “The focus of our efforts right now is on Congress and there are members of Congress who share this goal [closing Gitmo] and who have indicated at least an openness to working with the administration to achieve this goal. That’s the focus of our efforts right now. I’m not aware of any ongoing effort to devise a strategy using only the president’s executive authority to accomplish this goal, but I certainly wouldn’t take that option off the table.”
Earnest also admitted “there are a wide range of thorny, legal questions” involved in the shuttering of Gitmo.
“But the president made clear from his first week in office that closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay is a national security policy,” Earnest said, the news site reported.
Currently 107 inmates are detained at Gitmo, while fully 18 percent of those who’ve been released over the years have returned to the battlefield, Fox News reported.