0729 GMT January 19, 2020
Despite his campaign pledge to shutter the notorious facility, Obama and key officials within his administration are no longer actively pursuing the option, the Huffington Post reported Monday, citing sources familiar with the deliberations.
Without an executive action, Obama’s chances to fulfill the 2008 pledge will narrow down and convincing a resistant Congress would be the only way left for him to get the job done.
Closing down the facility requires bringing dozens of remaining prisoners to maximum-security prisons inside the US, a solution Congress has long banned.
Although Obama can still theoretically override the ban using his powers as the commander-in-chief, but White House lawyers and other officials think the president has failed to develop a strong legal position or an effective political sales pitch, sources noted.
“It was just deemed too difficult to get through all of the hurdles that they would need to get through, and the level of support they were likely to receive on it was thought to be too low to generate such controversy, particularly at a sensitive (time) in an election cycle,” one source said.
Congress also opposes the transfer of prisoners to other countries, over concern that released prisoners will return to militant activities.
At its peak, some 800 detainees were held at the notorious prison at the US naval base in Cuba, which was set up after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The Guantanamo prison and its associated military commissions cost the Pentagon $445 million in fiscal year 2015. That means each of the nearly 80 prisoners left at the facility today cost more than $5.5 million per year.
Thirty of the remaining detainees have been approved for transfer to foreign countries. The US State Department says the transfer will be done this summer.
A Senate report in December 2014 revealed that the CIA has used a wide array of sexual abuse and other forms of torture as part of its interrogation methods against Guantanamo prisoners.