President Barack Obama’s push to close Guantanamo Bay has finally culminated in a plan presented to Congress to shutter the facility and transfer detainees who require indefinite detention to U.S. soil.
The plan would require $475 million in construction costs for a U.S.-based facility, though the idea is that the funds would be recouped by a savings of $180 million per year. Over 10 years, shuttering Gitmo would bring in $335 million in net savings, according to the plan.
In anticipation, GOP Rep. [crscore]Mac Thornberry[/crscore], chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, said in advance that he would hold a hearing, but following the Tuesday release of the plan, Thornberry blasted it as nothing more than a “press release than a plan.”
“It is no substitute for the legally-required detainee plan the President must submit to Congress,” Thornberry said. “That plan is now overdue.”
The reason Thornberry is raising hell is because the plan does not actually propose a specific location for the detention facility.
“I find it telling that the White House has either failed to work out these important details or they know, but refuse to disclose them, to the American public,” Thornbery added. “I have pledged to give the President’s plan a fair hearing, but he makes it impossible to do so when he withholds critical details.”
The administration is hoping to open a continuing dialogue with Congress on the right location to store detainees.
“As the president has stated, responsibly closing the Guantanamo detention facility is a national security imperative,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement. “Implementing this plan will enhance our national security by denying terrorists a powerful propaganda symbol, strengthening relationships with key allies and counterterrorism partners, and reducing costs. As the president has said, it “makes no sense” to keep open a facility that “the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit.””
What’s notable about the plan is that it signals an intention to work with Congress, rather than using unilateral executive action by the administration to shut down the facility.
“The administration recognizes that there are currently statutory provisions restricting the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the United States and the use of funds to build or modify facilities for such transfers,” Cook said. “The administration looks forward to working with Congress to lift those restrictions.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday he was not confident the plan would pass muster with Congress.
The recidivism rate for detainees released from Guantanamo Bay is stunningly high. Based on data from the Director of National Intelligence, 17.9 percent are confirmed for re-engaging in hostilities, while 12.1 percent are only suspected of terror activities. Recidivism in the case of Gitmo detainees is more significant, as the offenses committed are not as pedestrian as shoplifting.
There are a total of 91 detainees still locked up in Gitmo. The administration plans to keep 46 indefinitely detained. Exactly 35 are approved for transfer. The rest of the 10 detainees have either been charged or convicted.
Russ Read contributed to this report.
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