Reuters: Obama not pursuing executive order to close Gitmo military prison

by Staff

The Obama administration does not plan to pursue an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, according to sources in a Reuters story.

“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,” a source said in the Reuters story.

If the U.S. prison in Cuba closes, 30 to 60 detainees who have been deemed too dangerous for release to other countries will be transferred to a U.S. facility. The Naval Consolidated Brig in Hanahan is one of 13 potential sites that have been under consideration to house the prisoners.

The Navy brig, located at Naval Support Activity Charleston — a division of Joint Base Charleston formerly known as Naval Weapons Station Charleston — opened in 1990 as a medium-security prison for military prisoners serving 10 years or fewer. It has 400 cells.

Many S.C. lawmakers are against the transfer and have vowed to block it. Gov. Nikki Haley has said she will fight any efforts to transfer detainees into the state.

President Barack Obama pledged in his 2008 campaign to close Gitmo, saying it costs taxpayers millions of dollars to operate every year and exacerbates anti-U.S. feelings.

If an executive order is not used, the chances of closing the controversial prison before Obama leaves office in January are slim. The president faces steep opposition to getting congressional approval.

The closing would hinge on persuading a resistant Congress to overturn a long-standing ban on bringing dozens of remaining prisoners to maximum-security prisons in the United States.

The prison at Guantanamo Bay has been used to house terrorism suspects since it was set up in 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.