e-News® | The NEWS Company…WASHINGTON, 30 Sept, 2015 : US lawmakers, frustrated at President Barack Obama’s failure to submit a plan to shutter Guantanamo, announced on Tuesday they will bar for another year any detainee transfers from the controversial prison to American soil. Transfers to the United States were banned by Congress in 2011, preventing Obama from fulfilling his promise to close the infamous military detention facility in Cuba, which still holds 113 terror suspects nearly 14 years after it was opened.
Lawmakers presented their restrictions as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016, which Congress is expected to pass in the coming weeks. “If the administration complains about the provisions concerning Guantanamo, then it’s their fault, because they never came forward with a plan that we could have probably supported in order to dispose of this issue,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain.
Obama had met with McCain at the White House to address the issue, but the Republican senator said the president never followed up, despite his campaign pledge to shutter Guantanamo. McCain, himself a former prisoner of war, favors closing the facility, but does not want to see inmates get freed in the United States.
He has, however, welcomed identifying a site in the US to house detainees. “The plan is coming,” assured Adam Smith, top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. “I actually talked to them about this, and they’re looking at various different options,” he added.
“We had expected it several weeks ago, we expect it to come.”
Smith said the goal was to find an adequate US location to house between 45 and 50 of the most dangerous detainees who are unlikely to ever be transferred home or to another country. Two locations were under consideration this summer: the military facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and the US Navy Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Congress also prohibits the transfer of inmates to Yemen, Libya, Syria and Somalia because of the dangerous security situation in those countries. The majority of the remaining Guantanamo inmates classified for release are from Yemen. Three detainees were released this month and transferred to Britain, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.