The American government has announced that they are once again delaying plans to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The news came despite the fact that White House officials have been saying for at least five months that they are in the “final stages” of shutting down the facility.
Government officials declined to comment on the reason for this most recent delay. Previous delays have largely been caused by cost and a lack of planning.
Spokesperson for the White House Josh Earnest said, “I don’t have any additional guidance for you beyond just letting you know that the promised plan that we said that we’d present to Congress is something that will come relatively soon.”
Pentagon spokesperson Commander Gary Ross added that they were looking at addressing the issue “potentially soon”, but there is “nothing imminent”.
President Barack Obama promised on his second full day in office that the Guantanamo Bay prison would be closed. He has stated in the past that it is a personal top priority.
It has been said that the Defense Department will submit the plan for closing the prison to Congress. This is likely to try and lessen the public outcry that will come with an undesirable method of closure.
Meanwhile, Senator and Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain is growing increasingly frustrated with the delays.
McCain complained, “From what I’m hearing, it’s a series of options, which is of course a bad joke. We want a plan. Where do you want to send them? How am I supposed to consider five or six different places? That’s not a plan, that’s a Chinese menu.”
McCain said earlier this year in June that the White House was drafting a plan to close the prison. He also tried to put language in the annual defense authorization bill that would have allowed the President to achieve this goal. However, the bill moved through Congress quickly, and McCain never got to put his plan into action.
Instead, the proposed bill actually makes it more difficult for the President to shut down the facility. Lawmakers who want to keep the facility open have done very little to help Obama in his goal of shutting the facility down. Additionally, proposals of lifting the restrictions that are working against Obama have been largely ignored. The proposed defense authorization bill is set to be signed by the President sometime this week.
With the most recent bill and the reluctance of Congress to help the president, it is looking like Obama will be unable to close the facility while he is in office. So far in the situation, the Obama administration has mostly relied upon simply moving the prisoners held at Guantanamo to other countries.
Obama has threatened taking executive action regarding the matter in the past, but it is unknown if he would actually follow through on such plans. The issue could also make its way to court.
Currently, 107 detainees are still at Guantanamo Bay. Just recently, five detainees at the facility were relocated to the United Arab Emirates.