“His critics have called it “Gitmo North” – they say it would just be a new prison in the United States that would continue to hold people indefinitely”, said Edelson.
Obama said it would be cheaper to relocate the remaining detainees – there are 91 that remain at the detention facility – to other countries or prison facilities in the United States.
Cori Crider, Guantanamo lawyer at the human rights organisation Reprieve, said: “For most of this presidency, “work with Congress” has been code for ‘ain’t gonna happen, ‘ so it’s far from plain whether the president really aims to force this plan through”. The law could not be any clearer: President Obama does not have the authority to move dozens of unsafe terrorists from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to American communities.
“I don’t want to pass this problem on to the next president, whoever it is”, the president said.
Complicating matters for the White House, Obama recently signed the Defense Authorization Act and Defense appropriations measure into law, which contain provisions preventing the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. The White House is expected to say those provisions are unconstitutional. “This is about closing a chapter in our history”.
U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said closing the facility would create needless national security risks and endanger American citizens. The U.S. facilities would cost between $265 million and $305 million to operate each year, according to the proposal.
The plan considers 13 different locations in the USA, including seven existing prison facilities in Colorado, South Carolina and Kansas, as well as six other locations at current correctional facilities on state, federal or military sites in several states.
Margulies thinks the most likely outcome is that Obama and his team whittle down the detainees the best they can, and in the end he leaves two- or three-dozen languishing in Cuba for the next president to deal with.
The plan does call for transferring the remaining detainees to the USA and seeks almost $500,000,000 in construction costs.
As a candidate and as president, Obama has argued that the indefinite detention without trial of Guantanamo inmates harms America s image and makes it less safe. “As I have said for years, the prison at Guantanamo must be closed as quickly as possible”, Sanders said in a statement, noting that he visited the prison during a 2014 trip to Cuba.
If the president is successful in closing Guantanamo Bay, he still has to house those 46 men in limbo.
The US president has released his plans to shut the controversial camp by January 2017 – eight years after he first ordered it to close in 2009.
Obama is considering taking executive action to close the facility, situated in a United States naval station in southeast Cuba, if Congress does not change its position. “We will not jeopardize our national security over a campaign promise”.
“What he is now proposing to do is in direct contradiction to the will of the American people”, said Sen.
The administration hopes sending the plan to Congress will spur lawmakers to help choose a facility they find amenable, but the White House is well aware the plan may not move at all.
Obama’s predecessor, George W Bush, opened the Guantanamo prison in early 2002 to house foreign terrorism suspects captured after the September 11, 2001, attacks on NY and Washington.