weather icon Clear

Pentagon expected to transfer several Guantanamo Bay detainees

WASHINGTON — Several of the 17 detainees cleared for release from the Guantanamo Bay prison are expected to be transferred next week, a senior U.S. official confirmed to CNN Saturday.

Last month, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told members of Congress that 17 detainees would be sent to other countries sometime in January.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information is not public, did not disclose the exact number who will first be transferred or their destination.

Once the 17 prisoners are moved, there will be 90 detainees left, and 59 of them are not deemed eligible to be transferred to another country, meaning they would need to be moved to a prison in the U.S. if Guantanamo is completely closed. The plan is fiercely opposed by some congressional Republicans.

One of President Barack Obama's remaining goals for the coming year is to close the detention center, also known as Gitmo, something he has vowed to do since he came into office in 2009.

"Guantanamo continues to be one of the key magnets for jihadi recruitment," Obama said at a press conference last month. He added that he expects to reduce the prison's population below 100 by early 2016 "and we will continue to steadily chip away at the numbers in Guantanamo."

He also said he will be presenting a plan to Congress on how to close Guantanamo.

"I'm not going to automatically assume that Congress says no," he told reporters. "I think it's fair to say that there's going to be a significant resistance from some quarters to that. But I think we can make a very strong argument that it doesn't make sense for us to be spending an extra $100 million, $200 million, $300 million, $500 million, a billion dollars, to have a secure setting for 50, 60, 70 people. And we will wait until Congress has definitively said no to a well-thought-out plan with numbers attached to it before we say anything definitive about my executive authority here."

The White House is awaiting a final plan for closing Guantanamo from the Pentagon. An initial proposal was considered too expensive.

The Associated Press first reported next week's expected transfer.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Mideast war tensions grow on university campuses

Columbia University canceled in-person classes Monday and police arrested several dozen protesters at Yale University.

Israeli military intelligence chief resigns

Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva’s decision could set the stage for more resignations among Israel’s top security brass over the Hamas attack.

First witness takes stand in Trump hush money trial

A prosecutor said Donald Trump tried to illegally influence the 2016 election, while a defense lawyer attacked the credibility of the government’s star witness.

Pending U.S. sanctions on IDF unit irks Israel

Israeli leaders criticize expected U.S. sanctions against millitary unit that could further strain ties , 4th Ld WriteThru

Iran devalues importance of target success in attack on Israel

JERUSALEM — Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday dismissed any discussion of whether Tehran’s unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel hit anything there, a tacit acknowledgment that despite launching a major assault, few projectiles actually made it through to their targets.