On his second full day in office, President Obama issued an executive order to review the disposition of prisoners being held at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and ordered that the detention facility be closed within a year.
Whitehouse.gov, Executive Order: Review and Disposition of Indiviuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base and Closure of Detention Facility , Jan. 22, 2009
Congress balks at Obama's planWednesday, May 20th, 2009 | President Barack Obama's plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has run into significant opposition, most notably from members of his own party who stripped millions of dollars to shutter the facility from a war funding bill.
Closing the prison has been one of Obama's signature issues since he was a candidate. On January 20, 2009, the day he was sworn in, he directed prosecutors to file a motion to suspend legal proceedings against the suspected terrorists held at the facility. Two days later, the administration issued an executive order to review the disposition of the prisoners and ordered that the facility be shut down within a year.
House Democrats refused to include the $80 million requested by the administration to close the facility in the war spending bill. Senate Democrats initially included the money in their $91.3 billion version of the measure, but then stripped it out by a 90-6 vote on May 20.
CQ Politics, Sen. Mitch McConnell's Comments on Guantanamo Bay , May 19, 2009
CQ Politics, Sen. Harry Reid's comments on Guantanamo Bay , May 19, 2009
White House, Transcript of Briefing of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs , May 19, 2009
Friday, September 25th, 2009
President Barack Obama promised to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Two days after he took office, he vowed to close it within a year — by Jan. 22, 2010.
But his effort has been slowed by the difficulty in finding a place to house the approximately 240 prisoners held there and resistance from Congress. In May, the Senate refused to fund Obama's efforts to close the center until he provided more detail on what, exactly, he intended to do with the detainees housed there. Now, Gregory Craig, the White House insider who was put in charge of the effort, is being removed from the project, according to a Sept. 25, 2009, Washington Post article.
The Post article, co-written with ProPublica, said the White House will have difficulty meeting the deadline four months from now.
So, closing the detention center continues to encounter difficulties.
Washington Post and ProPublica, White House regroups on Guantanamo , Sept. 25, 2009
President Obama came into office in January 2009, and two days after his inauguration, he signs his first executive order, calling for the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay within one year.
- Less than five months later, Congress — controlled by Democrats — votes overwhelmingly to neutralize that executive order, and to keep Gitmo open, by choking off the funds needed to enact the executive order by building new facilities, seeking deportations, etc. The vote in the Senate was 90 to 6.
- In November 2009, the Obama administration tried another tactic: they planned to move 100 remaining Gitmo detainees to an all-but abandoned, state-of-the-art prison in Illinois. The rural town wanted the deal, and the jobs that would come with it. Again, the deal was blocked by Congressional Republicans, and as of today, the “Gitmo North” plan seems to be dead on arrival.
December, 2010, Congress went in for the kill:
Congress on Wednesday signaled it won’t close the prison at Guantanamo Bay or allow any of its suspected terrorist detainees to be transferred to the U.S., dealing what is likely the final blow to President Obama’s campaign pledge to shutter the facility in Cuba.
The move to block the prison’s closure was written into a massive year-end spending bill that passed the House on Wednesday evening on a vote of 212-206, part of a last-minute legislative rush by Democrats to push through their priorities before ceding the House to Republican control in January.
News of the Guantanamo provision brought a quick and sharp rebuke from the Obama administration Wednesday.
“We strongly oppose this provision,” Department of Justice spokesman Matt Miller said in a statement. “Congress should not limit the tools available to the executive branch in bringing terrorists to justice and advancing our national security interests.”
Current law allows the Justice Department to bring detainees to the U.S. for trial as long as the Justice Department gives Congress 45 days notice of the transfer.