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article imageWhite House officials still plan to close Guantanamo Bay prison

By Nathan Salant     Sep 1, 2015 in World
Washington - Existing prison facilities at Leavenworth, Kan., and Charleston, S.C., are possible locations for where overseas terror suspects may be imprisoned at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when that prison closes sometime next year.
Pentagon officials recently inspected a potential facility in Kansas and plan to visit the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig at Charleston, S.C., as the White House readies a final closure plan for Congress, according to the [url=http:// http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/08/31/us-usa-guantanamo-obama-idUSKCN0R01P120150831 t=_blank]Reuters news service.
"The president and his team are always considering a wide array of options," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a press briefing on Monday.
U.S. President Obama made closing the Guantanamo prison, which has earned international condemnation for harsh treatment of overseas terror suspects since it was opened under President George W. Bush, an issue in his two successful campaigns for the White House in 2008 and 2012.
Obama's second term in office ends in January 2017.
But fierce opposition from Republican leaders in Congress have blocked efforts to shut down the facility, although its inmate count has been reduced by more than half since Obama was first elected, when it held close to 300, Reuters said.
Congress has even passed laws barring Guantanamo inmates from being transferred to prisons in the United States.
Many detainees have been held at Guantanamo Bay for more than 10 years without trial, Reuters said.
The prison was opened after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States to house al-Qaida and Taliban suspects captured overseas.
"We are not going to allow any terrorists to be housed in Charleston," South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley told a news conference in response to the White House plan, Reuters said.
But Earnest suggested the White House could decide to use executive action to close the prison if Congress did not agree.
"The fact is the best way for us to do this is for members of Congress of both parties to work effectively with the administration," the spokesman said.
The prison, located on the southeastern edge of the Caribbean island, currently houses 116 prisoners of which 52 have already been cleared for release when a country willing to accept them is found, Reuters said.
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