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POLITICS: PennAve

White House: Obama still determined to close Gitmo

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Kelly Ayotte,Guantanamo Bay,Carl Levin

The White House reaffirmed President Obama’s intention to shutter the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a long and elusive promise the president is trying to push anew.

“It is still absolutely the administration’s firm commitment to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday. “The facility continues to drain our resources ... and it harms our national security.”

The Obama administration plans to continue transferring detainees to other countries “to the greatest extent possible,” Carney said, and the president is calling again on Congress to lift restriction on repatriating those detainees.

He said the detainee language in the Senate Armed Services Committee version of the defense authorization bill is “in our view positive and an important step in that direction.”

Written by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the Armed Services Committee, the measure will be coming up for debate on the Senate floor within days and would allow the administration to move out prisoners who have been cleared for transfer. The bill would loosen those restrictions and lift a ban on bringing those detainees from Guantanamo to the United States for further detention or trial.

The House version of the bill, passed in June, reasserts a ban on sending detainees to Yemen, thwarting the president’s plans to send more than 80 detainees back to the Northern African country.

Republican senators, such as Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., oppose such a move and are offering an amendment that would prevent any transfers of detainees to Yemen.

“I don’t know how you can guarantee the security there — the government is tenuous in Yemen, there’s a whole host of issues —ungoverned territories,” she told the Washington Examiner last week. “I just think there are huge questions on whether you can guarantee the security of someone who is transferred to Yemen that they don’t get back into the fight.”

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