Obama has continually promised to close the facility since he has become president but Lisa Monaco,
Assistant to the President for Counter-terrorism and Homeland Security, said:
"At the end of the day, the domestic transfer restriction remains in place, so until Congress lifts that we’re not able to bring detainees here even to serve a life sentence, even to undergo prosecution to render a life sentence, so those restrictions remain in place. There will be some number that remain, absent an ability and a lifting of the Congressional restrictions to bring them to the Unuted States, they will remain in Guantanamo."
She made the remarks at a discussion promoted by the Christian Science Monitor. This in effect acknowledges that prison at Guantanamo Bay will not be closed during Obama's term as president in spite of his continual promises that it would be.
Some advocates of closure have claimed that Obama can use his executive authority to transfer the remaining prisoners to the US, including two lawyers who had worked on the issue for Obama. They claim he can simply ignore the Congressional ban on transfers. Obama is expected to sign into law a defense spending authorization bill that will maintain a prohibition to transfer Guantanamo prisoners to the US, as well as put limits on transfers abroad as well. Republicans in Congress were concerned that Obama might use his executive powers to override the ban but Monaco said that Obama has no intention of doing so even though he disagrees with the restrictions.
Monaco said that the Obama administration would continue to try to shrink the prison population at Guantanamo. It has shrunk from 240 when Obama became president to 59 now. Monaco said that Obama would transfer as many as he could before leaving office on January 20th. Monaco complained that the Congress would not act on the Obama plan to close Guantanamo submitted in February of this year.
The most recently planned transfer is of a prisoner accused of bombing
an Israeli hotel in Kenya. However, the transfer is being held up by the refusal of US authorities to release documentation used to show his guilt. The prisoner is being transferred to Israel to be prosecuted and Israel obviously wants evidence the US has of his guilt.
Far from closing Guantanamo Bay, President-elect Trump
might even make it bigger. Trump's pick for head of Homeland Security is retired general John Kelly.
Kelly was opposed to Obama's plans to close the base while he was in command of the area of which Guantanamo Bay was part. Under Trump Guantanamo Bay could thrive. Obama's plans would still have retained the worst feature of Guantanamo, imprisoning people indefinitely without benefit of any trial and with no charges being laid. Instead of injustice being perpetrated in Guantanamo Bay it would occur within the US itself.