President Obama has informed Congress that he intends to transfer 17 or 18 detainees from Guantanamo Bay by the end of his term in office. Current law requires the Pentagon to notify Congress 30 days ahead of a transfer, meaning Monday was the deadline for transfers before Trump’s inauguration.
This would be the bulk of the 22 prisoners who are cleared for release so far, and if it goes through, only 41 or 42 detainees overall will remain at the detention center when Trump takes office. Trump has vowed to keep the prison operating, and has suggested bringing in new detainees.
Italy is expected to take one of the detainees, while the rest of them will be going to Saudi Arabia, Oman, or the United Arab Emirates. The remaining detainees cleared for release are mostly from northern African states that the administration says it doesn’t feel comfortable releasing them to, along with one man who has no legal state of origin, and no nations willing to take him.
President Obama campaigned in 2008 on a platform of closing Guantanamo Bay, and after his inauguration in 2009 he promised to have the facility closed by the end of that year. Needless to say, this never happened, and the president mostly abandoned the effort until the last couple of years, during which he blamed Congress for not getting it done.