US Congress awaits Obama's plan to close Guantanamo

WASHINGTON - US congressional leaders on Thursday said they were still waiting for a plan to close the "war on terror" prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba despite President Barack Obama's reaffirmation of a decision to close it.
In a major speech on Thursday, Obama defended his decision to close the prison, describing it as a "mess" that had stained the reputation of the United States.

US Congress awaits Obama's plan to close Guantanamo
Obama also said he may seek to transfer some of the most dangerous Guantanamo detainees to US "super-max" top security jails -- a step highly unpopular with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid issued a statement saying Obama "reiterated the belief we both share that closing Guantanamo will make America more secure."
"Senate Democrats look forward to reviewing the details of the administration’s plan when it is released, and to working with the president to keep Americans safe and bring to justice those who seek to do us harm," he said.
Earlier in the day, Reid's communication director Jim Manley said that the Democratic senator's "concerns were with terrorists coming to our communities."
"We just got a broad vision from the president. We await the full details of the plan," Manley said.
Opposition Republicans, however, remain firmly opposed to closing Guantanamo.
"It may cost you a few popularity points in Europe," said Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, "but as you indicated, Mr President, in your speech today, figuring out what to do with these folks is quite complicated, and it's better to do that in a timely fashion without the arbitrary deadline for closing Guantanamo."
McConnell said he did not think Congress "is going to provide any funding for shutting down Guantanamo until we see a plan, and they might not want to then, depending upon the adequacy of the plan."
Republican House minority leader John Boehner said Obama "spoke a great deal (Thursday) about trust, but he declined to provide Americans with a clear plan for what to do with these terrorists."
Senate Democrats on Wednesday joined Republicans in a lopsided 90-6 vote to forbid transferring to US soil any of the 240 detainees held at Guantanamo.
On Thursday they prepared to vote on a 91.3 billion dollar 2009 budget supplemental to finance US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, without the 80 million dollars that Obama wanted to close Guantanamo.

Friday, May 22nd 2009

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