With January Looming, Obama 'Determined' to Close Guantanamo Before Leaving
WASHINGTON -- There are fewer than five months remaining in President Obama's term, and 61 detainees -- and Congress -- stand between the president and his goal of closing the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay.
Only 20 of the remaining prisoners have been cleared for transfer to a suitable country.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday that "we still have to go and do some diplomatic work with other countries to determine who's willing to assume responsibility for these individuals and who's also willing to assist with the implementation of whatever restrictions may be necessary against them after they're transferred."
Today, Earnest was asked how Obama could still be confident that Gitmo will be closed by the time he leaves office.
"What we will continue to do is to work to overcome the obstacles that Congress has erected to prevent the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay," Earnest replied. "And that's unfortunate, particularly when you consider that Democrats and Republicans, national security professionals in both parties, agree with the conclusion that President Obama has reached, which is that the American people are best served by closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay."
"...So, you know, we're going to do our best to try to get this closed. And it's our expectation that that's what we'll do."
However, Earnest added that he couldn't "lay out for you exactly the path for how that's going to take place right now."
"But the president has made clear that this is a priority. And he did that in the earliest days of his presidency, and it remains a priority here at -- in the last several months of his presidency."
Vice President Joe Biden told reporters in Sweden today that it is his "hope and expectation" that Obama shuts Guantanamo.