[JURIST] White House spokesperson Josh Earnest [professional profile] on Monday said President Barack Obama is considering a “wide array” of options for closing the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While Earnest said that Congressional consent would be the best means to shut the facility down, he would not rule out executive action as a last resort. Seeking to close the prison before the end of 2017, the White House has said [press release] Obama will soon send a plan for shutdown to Congress. However, despite the inmate population being down to 116, a complete shutdown would likely require sending some prisoners to jails in the US, a measure Congress has already banned.
The Guantanamo Bay prison [JURIST backgrounder] was set up in 2002 by the Bush administration as a facility to hold the most dangerous war criminals. At its peak in 2003, the prison had a population of 684 inmates. When Obama took office in 2008, one of his first directives was to close the facility, but he has faced considerable opposition in achieving that goal. On July 1, US Secretary of State John Kerry appointed [JURIST report] Lee Wolowsky to effectuate the closure of Guantanamo Bay.