US Defense Secretary says Gitmo closing unlikely

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at a congressional hearing Feb. 17 that Guantánamo Bay is unlikely to be closed because of security concerns. Responding to a question from the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Gates said that the odds of closing the detention facility are “very, very low,” particularly because of congressional opposition, the difficulty in predicting which detainees are likely to return to terrorist activities and restrictions on detainees being brought to the US for trial under the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act of 2011. Gates made his comments one day after CIA Director Leon Panetta told Congress that, if captured, Osama bin Laden and his second-in-command would probably be sent to Guantánamo Bay. At his first press briefing on Feb. 16, press secretary Jay Carney said that President Barack Obama still aims to close Guantánamo, despite Panetta’s comments.

The Obama administration continues its push to close the Guantánamo Bay facility, despite running into several hurdles in closing the prison, including the suspension of detainee transfers to Yemen and a new law barring the transfer of Guantánamo detainees to the US for trial. There are currently 178 detainees awaiting transfer from Guantanamo.

From Jurist, Feb. 18. Used with permission.