White House Not Sure If Closing GITMO With Executive Order is Constitutional, Hints Obama Might Do It Anyway

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Nov 09, 2015 3:00 PM
White House Not Sure If Closing GITMO With Executive Order is Constitutional, Hints Obama Might Do It Anyway

Despite overwhelming opposition from the American people and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, it is becoming clearer by the day President Obama is planning to close Guantanamo Bay prison with or without the consent of Congress. 

When asked about the constitutionality of unilaterally closing the prison with an executive order, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted Monday that the legality of such a move isn't clear, but hinted President Obama will do it anyway. 

"The focus of our efforts right now is on Congress and there are members of Congress who share this goal [closing GITMO] and who have indicated at least an openness to working with the administration to achieve this goal. That's the focus of our efforts right now. I'm not aware of any ongoing effort to devise a strategy using only the President's executive authority to accomplish this goal, but I certainly wouldn't take that option off the table," Earnest told reporters Monday. "There are a wide range of thorny, legal questions that are raised by this ongoing effort to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. I wouldn't sort of speculate on those right now. These are obviously, in some cases because of the unique nature of this facility, in some cases we're in uncharted legal waters here but, the President made clear from his first week in office that closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay is a national security priority."

Over the year the White House has slowly released GITMO prisoners in hopes the numbers will become so low, Congress no longer sees the prison as financially viable. Last summer, President Obama traded five top-Taliban commanders for alleged Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl. 

Later this week, a report detailing how the administration plans to shut down the prison is expected to be released by the Department of Defense.