[JURIST] US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] general counsel Jeh Johnson [official profile] said Thursday that the Obama administration remains committed to closing the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] by early next year. Speaking before the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Law and National Security [association website], Johnson said that the administration was still hoping to meet the January deadline [AP report] for the facility's closure but that there were many challenges. Johnson also criticized [Politico reoprt] recently released memos and reports [JURIST reports] that authorized harsh interrogation techniques, but made no comment on Attorney General Eric Holder's pending investigation [JURIST report] into torture allegations.
The primary obstacle to closing the detention center at Guantanamo is the question of what should be done with detainees who cannot be released. Officials are reportedly still considering creating a military-civilian prison facility that would house its own court at a site in Michigan, but local residents have strongly opposed [JURIST reports] the plan. Officials are also considering trying detainees in federal courts, with cases assigned to federal prosecutors [JURIST report] last month. There are currently 226 detainees remaining at Guantanamo.