The Obama administration this week threatened to use executive action to close the military prison at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, urging Congress not to block the president’s efforts.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest refused to rule out the possibility of Obama using executive action to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to prisons in the United States.
Recent Stories in National Security
"At this point, I would not take anything off the table in terms of the president doing everything that he can to achieve this critically important national security objective," Earnest said Wednesday.
The administration is putting the final touches on a plan to close the military prison that will recommend speeding up the transfer of prisoners to other countries and moving others to stateside prisons. Once ready, the plan will be given to Congress.
The closure of Guantanamo Bay was one of the Obama administration goals for which Hillary Clinton advocated during her stint as secretary of state. Sources said Clinton criticized White House aides at a meeting in August 2010 for "not working harder" on closing the detention facility, according to a 2013 article in Newsweek.
"We are throwing the president’s commitment to close Guantanamo into the trash bin," she reportedly said. "We are doing him a disservice by not working harder on this."
Clinton also sent a confidential memo to Obama before she left the State Department in January 2013 laying out suggestions to move ahead with the closure of the military prison. The president has been pushing to close Guantanamo Bay since he took office in 2009.
There are over 100 detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay, and 64 prisoners have been labeled too dangerous for release, meaning they would likely be brought to the U.S. to face federal prosecution or continued detention.
The Department of Defense has reviewed prisons in Colorado, Kansas, and South Carolina to assess whether they could be used to jail detainees currently held at the military prison in Cuba. Lawmakers in those states responded by slamming the administration for considering transferring terrorists to the U.S.
Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday that congressional lawmakers should not stand in the way of the president as he pushes to shutter Guantanamo Bay before he leaves office.