Pentagon teams are searching for a replacement to transfer prisoners from Guantanamo prison, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
The Pentagon Chief Ash Carter said on Thursday that President Barack Obama is closer to closing down the infamous U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay for prisoners of war crimes. According to Reuters, Carter said that Defense Department assessment teams have been searching for a substitute prison where prisoners can be transferred to. The teams have already visited the U.S Army detention center at Leavenworth, Kansas and would be visiting the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Carter added that they would be visiting other prisons as well in the following weeks in order to find the most suitable facility that could house the prisoners of war.
However, there has been strong opposition for the transfer of prisoners in the facilities that the Defense Department teams have visited. Namely, the Republican Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley told reporters on Thursday that “We are not going to allow any terrorists to be housed at the Navy Brig in Charleston.” A Republican Senator, Pat Roberts of Kansas has also threatened to hold the nomination of an Army Secretary if the Obama administration transfers the prisoners to Leavenworth.
President Obama has been pushing for the closure of the Guantanamo prison ever since he was first elected in office; however his efforts have been blocked by Republican opposition. His plan of creating a broad strategy of how to handle the detainees and a complete closure plan of Guantanamo is expected to be put in front of Congress for a vote very soon.
The prison in Guantanamo Bay currently holds 116 inmates that have been captured as Al-Qaeda terrorists and affiliates. It has been build after the events on September 11. Almost half of them are scheduled for a release only if the United States finds a country that would be willing to accept them. The other half is deemed too dangerous for release and that is why the Obama administration is searching for new a new facility that would house them.
According to Reuters, Ash Carter is in agreement with the President for the closure of Guantanamo and has stated “With respect to Guantanamo, I see it exactly the way the President does, a rallying point for jihadi propaganda.” He also added that this is an issue that must be resolved quickly and said “It’s expensive for this department and not something that the president wants to leave to his successor. I think that is a very, very correct position. I support it entirely.”
U.S. Senate has issued a report in the previous months that shows that Guantanamo has been using extreme torture techniques in the interrogation of prisoners, using such techniques as waterboarding. Obama is urging Congress to close the prison before he leaves office, but Congress is hesitant. The President will continue with his calls on lifting transfer restrictions and a designation of a site that would hold the detainees for a prosecution in military commissions.