WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Obama administration is considering all possible locations in the United States to house detainees from the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.
Breitbart News asked the Pentagon if the Obama administration would be open to transferring Guantánamo detainees to American territories outside the continental United States, such as Guam and Puerto Rico.
Cmdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesperson from the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo, where the detention facility is located, responded:
We reviewed a number of possible locations. Rather than initiate a debate about the merits of any particular location, we believe it is important to seek a dialogue with Congress and establish parameters for a U.S.-based detention facility. We look forward to working with Congress to select a location.
Legislation that received bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Obama last year prohibits the administration from using federal funds to build or modify a facility on U.S. soil to house Guantánamo prisoners.
Nevertheless, earlier this week, the Department of Defense (DOD) submitted to Congress the Obama administration’s plan to shut down the U.S. military prison. Under the proposal, nearly three dozen of the remaining 91 detainees would be transferred to other countries, and the rest would be sent to the United States.
Friday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the House Appropriations Committee that some Guantánamo Bay prison detainees must be transferred to the United States because they are too dangerous to be sent elsewhere.
“The reason to have a conversation with the Congress about the future of the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay is precisely because there are people there who cannot be safely transferred to the custody of another country,” the Pentagon chief told the House panel. “That means they need to stay in detention. And so they’ve got to go somewhere, and if they’re not going to be at Guantánamo Bay, they have to be somewhere in the United States.”
The proposal that the president made and that we helped him craft asks Congress, which — because doing so is forbidden by law now — to work with us to see if we can devise a detention facility in the United States precisely in recognition of the fact that we’re never going to be able to let these people go.
Members of the Obama administration, including Carter and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, have conceded that it would be illegal for the Obama administration to transfer Guantánamo detainees to the United States.
When running for his first term in the White House, Obama promised to close the prison, and he has made similar pledges since, but the facility remains open.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has threatened the White House with a lawsuit should the Obama administration proceed unilaterally with its plan to close the Guantánamo detention center.
“If the President proceeds with knowingly breaking the law and asking the military to knowingly break the law he will be met with fierce bipartisan opposition here in Congress and we are taking all legal preparations necessary to meet that resistance,” the Speaker told reporters this week.