US President Barack Obama on Tuesday unveiled a long-stalled closure plan of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, a move which would certainly set off a fierce clash with Republican lawmakers.
Speaking at a press conference in the White House, Obama said for the 91 detainees currently held in Guantanamo Bay, some would be transferred, and his administration would review the threat posed by detainees who were not eligible for transfers and identify those eligible for military trials, reports Xinhua.
In his apparently last-ditch effort to seek cooperation from a hostile Republican-controlled Congress, Obama made a financial argument for closing the controversial prison overseas.
“The defense department estimates that this plan compared to keeping Guantanamo open would lower costs up to $85 million a year,” said Obama. “Over 20 years, the savings would be up to $1.7 billion.”
However, the closure plan left unanswered a crucial question as to where the administration would put some detainees ineligible for transfers inside the US.
“We are not identifying a specific facility today in this plan,” said Obama. “As Congress has imposed restrictions that currently prevent the transfer of detainees to the United States, we recognize that this is going to be a challenge.”
Calling the Guantanamo Bay “counterproductive to our fight against terrorists,” he said that the closure of the prison was about “closing a chapter” in US history and would enhance US national security.
However, in a blistering statement issued almost at the same time as Obama outlined his plan, House Speaker Paul Ryan accused the White House of failing to provide “crucial details required by law”.
“After seven years, President Obama has yet to convince the American people that moving Guantanamo terrorists to our homeland is smart or safe. And he doesn’t seem to be interested in continuing to try,” said Ryan.
“We will not jeopardise our national security over a campaign promise,” the statement concluded, referring to Obama’s unfulfilled 2008 presidential campaign promise.