Obama Delivers Guantanamo Closure Plan to Congress, Nation

Dawn arrives at the now closed Camp X-Ray, which was used as the first detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. U.S. officials say the Pentagon’s long-awaited plan to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer the remaining detainees to a facility in the U.S. calls for up to $475 million in construction costs, but would save as much as $180 million per year in operating costs. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Dawn arrives at the now closed Camp X-Ray, which was used as the first detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. U.S. officials say the Pentagon’s long-awaited plan to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer the remaining detainees to a facility in the U.S. calls for up to $475 million in construction costs, but would save as much as $180 million per year in operating costs. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Barack Obama presented a four point plan Tuesday to “close Guantanamo once and for all” the president said. The plan now lies in the control of Congress to approve the closure, or not.

​“When it becomes clear that something is not working as intended, that it does not advance our national security its time to change course,” said President Barack Obama at a press conference. “Guatanamo does not advance our national security efforts.”

Among the four main elements of the plan are: to ensure those 35 of the 91 detainees that have already been approved for transfer will be transferred; accelorate periodic reviews of remaining detainees to deternmine wether their remaining detention is necessary; use federal legal tools to deal with to remaining detainees and not military commissions, this includes those 10 detainees still being held under law of war detention that do not currently qualify for federal trials; and to work with Congress to find secure places in the U.S. in which to transfer detainees.

According to testimony from officials before Obama’s speech, the closure plan submitted to Congress references 13 potential sites for detainees to be transferred to U.S. soil but does not endorse one specific facility.

The officials also told reporters that the cost of the transfer of detainees and closure would be $290 million to $475 million. Housing the remaining detainees in the United States would be $65 million to $85 million cheaper than at the Cuba facility, the official said, so costs would be offset within three to five years.

Obama also highlighted the long term savings to taxpayers that would result from closing the military prison. According to the president, after only one year it would save U.S. taxpayers $85 million, $300 million over 10 years and at least $1.7 billion over 20 years.

Some 35 prisoners will be transferred from Guantanamo to other countries this year, leaving the final number below 60. President Barack Obama believes the United States can safely house the rest at a domestic facility, they added.

The plan must now be approved by Congress before it is implemented, which many say will be a hard sell. The Republican-controlled Congress has shown no signs that it will actually be interested in closing the facility once they see Obama’s plan. Some of the leaders, including House speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, have directly said that Guantanamo Bay should remain open.

The front-runners the Republican presidential nomination have also voiced their support for keeping Guantanamo open.

This content was originally published by teleSUR.

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