The next National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will loosen restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of Guantanamo Bay, at least if the Senate version holds up.
In a 55-43 vote today, the provision won a surprise victory in the Senate, and sets up a December battle with the House of Representatives, whose version of the bill did not ease the restrictions at all.
The vote rested on keeping some Democratic hawks away from no votes, and also got a surprising boost from three Republican Senators, Sens. Rand Paul (R – KY), Jeff Flake (R – AZ) and John McCain (R – AZ), who backed the revision.
Though this raises the prospect of finally closing the detention center, it likely does not mean ever actually releasing any of the detainees, including those who have been cleared for release for many years and who have never been charged with any crime. The reality, rather, is that the goal is simply to relocate them somewhere less notorious to get the story out of the papers, allowing Obama to argue that he technically managed to keep his promise to close the prison.
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