"Our nation has invested millions of dollars in building state-of-the-art humane and safe facilities to detain and prosecute the terrorist detainees at Guantanamo," Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said on Wednesday. "It would be fiscally and morally irresponsible to shutter the facility at this time and invest in new facilities in the United States at a time when our nation is tightening its belt."
Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York both vehemently opposed plans last year to hold a trial in their home state, pitting themselves against the Obama administration.
Proponents of closing the Guantanamo detainee center say they are extremely disappointed by recent reports indicating that military tribunals will resume.
"We think this is a significant step backward in efforts to restore the rule of law, when he [the president] should be moving instead towards closing Guantanamo," said Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Project.
"Certainly Congress bears a share of the responsibility for the fact that Guantanamo remains open and it's shameful policies continue, but two years ago President Obama ... put the power and prestige of the presidency behind what he described as a national security imperative and instead of proceeding down that correct path we've made few to no steps forward and that is simply not good for the restoration of the rule of law or for good policy making," Shamsi added.
There are about 170 prisoners remaining at the detainee center in Guantanamo Bay, 30 of which were due to face trial in criminal courts or before military commissions. Since 2002, 598 prisoners have been transferred to other countries.