POLITICS: PennAve

Obama meets with Guantanamo closure envoys

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President Obama met privately Monday with two officials tasked with closing the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, the White House announced.

"The president reiterated that he remains fully committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and made clear that the special envoys have his full support as they work to facilitate the transfer of Guantanamo detainees," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

The meeting comes just days after Paul Lewis, formerly a lawyer for the House Armed Services Committee, became the Pentagon's "special envoy for Guantanamo closure" on Nov. 1. The president also met with Clifford Sloan, who works in a similar capacity for the State Department.

The White House framed its desire to close the detention facilities in terms of taxpayer cost in an age of Pentagon budget austerity.

"We are spending almost $1 million per detainee per year to house detainees at Guantanamo – that’s nearly $200 million dollars annually in an era of sequestration and tighter budgets," Carney said in a statement. "The Guantanamo facility continues to drain our resources and harm our standing in the world."

Despite the administration's push to close the detention facility — something Obama first promised during the 2008 campaign — Congress' most recent defense policy legislation prohibits the transfer of the detainees to American soil for trial. More than 160 detainees remain at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay, including more than 80 who had been cleared for release.

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