President Barack Obama is trying to fulfill one of his promises by leaving as few prisoners in Guantanamo Bay as possible. He notified Congress that the administration intends to transfer out some of the detainees before Donald Trump is sworn in.
Trump has pledged to keep the prison open and to “load it up” so Obama’s last minute move will certainly annoy him.
A congressional official told CNN they received notice on Monday that the White House was planning on transferring some additional detainees. Other congressional sources said, Congress was also informed the White House will make additional notifications of more transfers within the next 24 hours.
The notification came on the last day possible, as the administration is legally required to provide Congress with 30 days notice prior to transferring any of the detainees.
According to the Pentagon, out of the 59 prisoners remaining, 22 are currently eligible for transfer.
The New York Times reported officials saying the number the Obama administration is planning to transfer is between 17 and 18.
When Obama came into office he pledged to shut Guantanamo down but his efforts have been largely rebuffed by the Republican-led Congress that passed legislation barring the Defense Department from transferring inmates to US soil.
Earlier this month, Obama told US troops at MacDill Air Force Base:
The politics of fear has led Congress to prevent any detainees from being transferred to prisons in the United States. Until Congress changes course, it will be judged harshly by history, and I will continue to do all that I can to remove this blot on our national honor.
Even with the resistance the Obama administration has been able to reduce the population from 242 detainees in January 2009 to 59.