WASHINGTON – The Defense Department is drawing up plans to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison in anticipation that one of President-elect Barack Obama’s first acts will be ordering the closure of the detention center associated with the abuse of terror suspects.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates “has asked his team for a proposal on how to shut (the detention center) down, what would be required specifically to close it and move the detainees from that facility while at the same time, of course, ensuring that we protect the American people from some dangerous characters,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morell told reporters on Thursday.
The prison, built to hold suspected terrorists after the 2001 U.S.-led military intervention in Afghanistan, now houses about 250 detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and others accused in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Obama, who’s asked Gates to stay on as his defense secretary, has said that he wants to close the prison within two years of taking office on Jan. 20. Gates also has spoken publicly about the need to close the facility.