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House Republicans Prepare Legal Fight to Stop Obama from Closing Guantanamo

by VOA News February 24, 2016

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are preparing to take legal steps to prevent President Barack Obama from closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and transferring some detainees to the United States.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Wednesday that lawmakers are preparing a legal challenge to ensure the prison remains open. He said lawmakers have the votes to block Obama's plan in Congress and enough votes to override any veto.

On Tuesday, President Obama outlined plans to transfer roughly 35 of the 91 Guantanamo detainees to other countries while sending the remaining prisoners to a facility in the United States.

Transferring detainees, closing facility

Current U.S. law bans the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to locations within the United States. Some say those transfers could bring security concerns.

The White House has left open the possibility Obama could use an executive order to close Guantanamo.

The President has stressed the importance of closing the facility since taking office in 2009.

A senior administration official said moving the prisoners from Cuba to the U.S. will save the Pentagon between $65 million and $85 million per year, and would offset the initial cost needed to move the prisoners within three-five years.

The Guantanamo facility opened in 2002 under the administration of former President George W. Bush following the September 11 terror attacks in New York and Washington. Nearly 800 detainees have been held there at some point since then, many for long periods without being charged or put on trial.

Most of the detainees have been transferred back to their respective home countries or other nations willing to take them in.

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