WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama left the door open to taking executive action to close down the military detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, potentially skirting laws passed by Congress that attempted to make it more difficult for his administration to shut down what became an international symbol of indefinite detention.
But first, Obama said, he wants to see if Congress rejects a plan from the administration to close the facility.
“We will wait until Congress has definitively said no to a well-thought-out plan with numbers attached to it before we say anything definitively about my executive authority here,” Obama said. “I think it’s far preferable if I can get stuff done with Congress.”
Obama said he expects the population of Guantanamo detainees to fall below 100 by early next year. ”There’s gonna come a point where we have an irreducible population,” Obama said.
“I’m not going to automatically assume that Congress says no,” Obama said, adding that he expects opposition in Congress but hopes his administration can make a convincing argument, even in an election year.
While it seems very unlikely Republicans in Congress would suddenly decide to stop blocking the Obama administration’s efforts to close the facility, the president said Congress could still “surprise” him.
“It’ll be an uphill battle,” Obama said.
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