During the course of a regular daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced President Obama and his staff was preparing a plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility which remains the home for over 100 terror suspects.
“(The administration was) In the final stages of drafting a plan to safely and responsibly (close) the prison at Guantanamo Bay and to present that to Congress,” said Earnest. “That has been something that our national security officials have been working on for quite some time, primarily because it is a priority of the president.”
Despite being among one of the first Executive Actions taken by President Obama on 22 January 2009, the prison has remained a contentious issue between Congress and the White House. Although the prison houses close to 700 inmates at its height, only 116 remain today.
The facility has been the subject of fierce debate between Mr. Obama and Congress; Congress has repeatedly expressed concerns detainees return to terrorism and the White House has responded the prison is a source of inspiration for terrorist activity.
The Senate is currently weighing a defense bill which would facilitate the closing of Guantanamo; however, it would require prior congressional approval.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who chairs the Senate Committee on Armed Services, has stated any plan from the White House would need to involve both a prcedure to review cases of existing prisoners and a proposition to house current detainees elsewhere.
Congressional republicans have repeatedly blocked White House proposals to transfer detainees to American prisons and sought to curtail the re-location of detainees in countries willing to accept them.
Although Gitmo is an accidental center of upheaval and has been of some detrimental use, this facility hardly awakened the destructive hatred the United States continues to face and will hardly lighten moods among our enemies. No matter how repugnant its existence is, it did serve the purpose of protecting an untold number of lives.[reuters] [whitehouse.gov]