Carter Doesn’t Think Obama Can Close Gitmo
While in Estonia, Defense Secretary Ash Carter remarked Tuesday in an interview with CBS News that he’s doubtful of President Barack Obama’s ability to close Guantanamo Bay.
The end of Obama’s second term is quickly approaching, and Carter is not optimistic about prospects of closure, given that a Republican-dominated Congress has opposed the White House at almost every turn, Politico reports.
But there is at least one Republican bent on cooperating with the administration. On Tuesday, Sen. John McCain told reporters that with a closure plan from the administration, convincing Congress to compromise would be a much easier feat.
Earlier in June, Carter confirmed he was working on a plan to bring detainees back to U.S. soil and finally close down the prison facilities, though not every detainees can simply be freed, since some of them almost certainly will return to former terrorist activities.
“I think it would be nice to do that before the end of President Obama’s administration so that the next President doesn’t have to deal with this situation,” Carter stated.
“And therefore we need a place where we can detain them in the long term,” Carter added. “We have been forbidden to create such a place in U.S. territory.”
While the House defense bill includes more restrictions on Gitmo closure, thereby earning the White House’s ire, the Senate version, pushed by McCain, is quite different. Included is a provision stipulating that if the administration submits a careful and very detailed plan describing how the transfers would take place, Congress may give its stamp of approval and the facility may come down. In July, a conference committee is hoping to iron out the differences between the House and Senate defense bills.
McCain is still waiting for a plan.
“The fact is they told me they would, so I’d like them to keep their word. Is it absolutely vital, no, but it sure matters,” McCain told reporters. “It’s not in the House bill, and they’re adamant – they have more stringent provisions [on transfer restrictions] in the House bill.”
Following the recent transfer of six detainees to Oman, there are 116 prisoners left in Guantanamo Bay. (RELATED: Bin Laden’s Entourage A Part Of Latest Gitmo Transfer)
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