President Barack Obama’s plan to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would bring as many as 64 of the 116 current detainees — those deemed too dangerous to transfer elsewhere — to the U.S. for federal prosecution or continued military detention.
The others would be transferred home or to third countries under terms intended to assure that they won’t threaten the U.S.
The plan, outlined Saturday by Lisa Monaco, Obama’s adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, would require Congress to change the law that now prohibits the movement of the detainees to the U.S., setting up a fight with many Republican lawmakers who have said they oppose shutting down the detention center.
Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, on Saturday called Obama’s approach a “reckless and dangerous policy.”
The Obama administration plans to win support from Congress in part by presenting the cost of the current arrangement — about $3 million a year per detainee — as a waste of money that could be better used for other national security priorities.
The number of detainees is “getting so low that it really doesn’t make any fiscal sense to keep this hugely expensive facility open in Cuba,” Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Friday at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado.