Obama announces plan to close GITMO

Posted at 5:29 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-24 00:07:23-05

President Obama is trying to keep good on his promise to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. 

"Today, the Department (of Defense) is submitting to congress our plan for finally closing the facility at Guantanamo once and for all," the president said in a news conference Tuesday morning.

It's an announcement expected for seven years. Now there's an actual plan to close what's come to be known as GITMO. 

We were there earlier this month touring the facility. The camps are massive, state-of-the-art prisons that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. 

The president broke his plan down into four elements:

1. Continuing to release the 35 detainees already cleared to be sent to third-party countries.

2. Accelerating Periodic Review Board hearings (a sort of the GITMO parole hearings) for more than 40 detainees.

3. Continuing military commissions for some detainees.

4. Moving who's left to a facility in the United States.

"We're going to work with Congress to find a secure location to hold remaining detainees," he said.

"Once I get that legal order, we will execute it," JTF Guantanamo Bay Commander Rear Admiral Peter Clarke said while sitting down with ABC Action News earlier this month.

He talked about several potential scenarios, including moving the facility to the U.S.

"It won't change the types of military police and medical personnel that are providing the services. It won't change the procedures we use for safe and secure detention," he said.

The president said the move would save money. Only 91 detainees are being held there. That's down from nearly 800. Still, there are 2,000 troops deployed to the facility. Last year, GITMO cost taxpayers $450 million. The president says closing it could save up to $85 million.

Several Republican lawmakers have already voiced opposition to the plan. Some cite reports that some released detainees rejoined the terrorist fight. 

The president needs congressional approval to move forward with his plan.