As part of what seems like a whirlwind of activity in the last few weeks of his presidency, President Barack Obama has told Congress that he plans to resettle as many as 19 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The outlet reports that despite this move, about 40 inmates will remain at Guantanamo, a tangible failure of the president to deliver on his Inauguration Day promise to close the prison.
The transfer plans will reportedly move a group of prisoners to the United Arab Emirates and additional inmates to Oman, Saudi Arabia and, possibly, Italy. Since Obama took office, the United States has repatriated or resettled 179 prisoners, a significant decrease from a peak population of 700 under President George W. Bush, who was commander in chief during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center.
Although for some, that isn’t enough.
“History is going to judge [Obama] badly for his failure to close Guantanamo and particularly for his failure to do everything he has legal authority to do,” Wells Dixon said to CNN. The senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights represents Guantanamo prisoners.
A spokesperson for the White House responds that the administration has continued to take “all possible steps” to move detainees out of Guantanamo and close the prison.
“The continued operation of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists,” said Emily Horne, a White House spokeswoman.
While President-elect Donald Trump has not spoken extensively about Guantanamo, he has criticized prisoner releases and identified the military prison as a “very safe place” to house suspected militants.
Trump has also indicated that he plans to use the prison as part of his counterterrorism policy and “load it up with some bad dudes,” possibly even trying U.S. citizens there, a move prohibited by current U.S. law.
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.