Holder: 'Will Require the Cooperation of Congress' to Close Gitmo

By Susan Jones | February 18, 2015 | 8:30 AM EST

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) - "There is a realistic possibility" that the Guantanamo Bay detention center could close before President Obama leaves office, Attorney General Eric Holder said at the National Press Club on Tuesday. But, "It would require, I think, the cooperation of Congress to lift some of the restrictions that they have placed on the administration."

"There is no question that the closing of Guantanamo would be a good thing," Holder continued. "It is something that costs us an excessive amount of money; if you look at the amount of money that we spend to house one person in Guantanamo for one year, as opposed to what it would take to house that same person in a Supermax, in the United States."

Holder also mentioned the "foreign policy price," saying that Gitmo is "used as a recruiting tool for those who we are currently engaged with." He avoided using the word terrorists.

"There are a whole host of reasons why Guantanamo should be closed. I think it's possible; we've made a substantial amount of progress, oh, I think with the last year or so. But I think ultimately it will require the cooperation of Congress to reduce the level to zero."

Far from helping President Obama close Gitmo, a group of Senate Republicans last month sponsored legislation that would stop detainee transfers to third countries and extend the ban on transferring enemy combatants to the United States.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), passed the Senate Armed Services Committee last week on a 14-12 vote. The White House said President Obama will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

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