The President’s Plan for Closing the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility

It’s here. The President proposes that once current transfer efforts are completed this year, the remaining 30 to 60 GTMO detainees ought to be detained in a U.S. facility. This would “generate at least $335 million in net savings over 10 years and up to $1.7 billion in net savings over 20 years.”

The plan does not endorse a specific U.S. facility to house the detainees. According to the Department of Defense, “[t]he administration seeks an active dialogue with Congress on this issue and looks forward to working with Congress to identify the most appropriate location as soon as possible.” (The Plan states that DoD “identified 13 potential facilities for the purpose of building a cost estimate.”)

Appended to the Plan is the Attorney General’s 2014 Report Pursuant to Section 1039 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, which assesses whether the relocation of GTMO detainees to the U.S. could result in their relief from, or withholding of, removal from the United States, required release from immigration detention, or asylum. The AG’s report “demonstrates that existing statutory safeguards and executive and congressional authorities provide robust protection of the national security.” The Section 1039 report further explains that the Department of Justice is “not aware of any case law, statute, or constitutional provision that would require the United States to grant any Guantánamo detainee the right to remain permanently in the United States,” and that, in any event, “Congress could . . . enact legislation explicitly providing that no such statutory right exists.”

Of course, this Plan can only be implemented if Congress lifts the current, statutory restrictions, which serve no purpose apart from partisan political ends, and which are harmful to national security. It is also worth noting that, presumably for reasons I explained earlier, the Administration has confirmed that it will not disregard those statutory restrictions. 

About the Author(s)

Marty Lederman

Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center Follow him on Twitter (@marty_lederman).