President Barack Obama Plan To Close Guantanamo Bay

President Obama today announced a plan to close Guantanamo Bay, the seven-year culmination of the promise he made during the 2008 election.

There are still 91 detainees in custody at the facility, which was opened in 2002.

The president announced the four-part plan during a televised address from the Roosevelt Room on Tuesday morning, calling on Congress to approve the measure, which was first proposed by the Pentagon.

But while Obama has shown a willingness to wield executive power in the face of congressional inaction on issues such as immigration and background checks on gun sales, most legal experts interviewed by NBC News said they don’t expect him to go to that well again to close Guantanamo.

Michael Greenberger, a former Justice Department attorney now teaching law at the University of Maryland, said such a decision would be the result of political calculation in the midst of a presidential campaign rather than concerns about the constitutionality of such an action.

 Renovations on a new site are expected to cost as much as $475 million, but the plan is ultimately expected to save the U.S. somewhere between $65 and $85 million a year in operating costs.
“The chance of Guantanamo detainees being brought to the U.S. in an environment where you have Republican presidential candidates trying to outdo one another on how many illegal immigrants they’re going to deport is very, very small,” he said.

“(Obama) could have done it by executive order, based on his powers as commander in chief. But since it’s clear to me that Congress is not going to act, it would be so late in his administration that he would be tying the hands of the future president, which he said he doesn’t want to do.”

Other experts disagree that Obama’s authority to shut Guantanamo Bay and transfer the 91 detainees still held there to the U.S is clear cut.

“Does the president through his commander-and-chief powers have unilateral authority to do this on his own?” said Robert J. Spitzer, distinguished service professor of political science at SUNY Cortland. “The answer is no, as long as Congress has acted affirmatively to prevent him from doing that, as it has in this case.”

And that’s if the Republicans even allow the measure to pass—according toCNN, conservative lawmakers required language on at least two recent bills barring the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. Even so, the White House has not, according to reports, ruled out unilateral action.

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