Guantanamo Will Be Closed Before Obama's Term Ends, Ex-Official Predicts

The former State Department official charged with closing the Guantánamo Bay detention facility predicted over the weekend that President Barack Obama will keep his promise to shutter the prison before ending his term.

“I believe Guantánamo is going to be closed by the time the president leaves office,” former special envoy for Guantánamo Closure Clifford Sloan said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Nobody should underestimate President Obama’s determination and commitment on the issue.”

Sloan said detainees who are released from Guantánamo first go through a “very intensive review.”

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, the State Department,” he said. “And what that means is you had military, intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security, foreign policy perspectives, all six had to unanimously agree that the person can and should be transferred. And that process has stood the test of time.”

Sloan said the number of released detainees who have “subsequently engaged in wrongdoing” is about 6.8 percent.

“That means well over 90 percent of those who have been transferred in this administration after going through that process, not only are not confirmed to have engaged in wrongdoing, they’re not even suspected of engaging in any wrongdoing. It’s a very thorough process,” he said.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, meanwhile, reiterated his support for closing the detention facility, though he acknowledged that some of the remaining prisoners are too dangerous to release.

“I’ve been in the group that believes that it’s in our national interests to quote — to close Guantánamo,” Dempsey said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“It does create a psychological scar on our national values, Whether it should or not, it does,” he added. “What I’ve also said quite clearly is there are some of these detainees, in particular, this kind of conflict over a protracted period, that simply should not be released. We’re going to come to a point, though, where we’ve got dozens of these individuals who just have to be detained. And we’ve got to figure that out.”

When pressed for what should be done with those prisoners, Dempsey said he would defer to political leaders.

“Well, that’s a — that’s a policy decision,” he said, “But there’s going to be dozens of these individuals that have to be detained. Our elected officials need to find a way to detain them.”