Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says it won't be easy to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. The outgoing Pentagon chief made the comments to NPR:
Can Obama keep his revised promise to close the Guantanamo facility before leaving office? "It's going to be very difficult," Hagel said, "especially if the Congress further restricts where these last 122 detainees go." Congress has already barred them from being sent to the United States.
NPR has more:
Hagel's resignation, never fully explained in public, was privately blamed on a variety of factors – one of them being White House frustration with his handling of Guantanamo. No detainee could be transferred out of the prison until Hagel certified that the prisoner would be placed in some other situation where he would not pose a threat to the United States. This was not easy to do.
In the NPR interview, Hagel said that transferring any detainee required action from many parts of the federal government. Diplomats, for example, had to find a country willing to receive each detainee, since there is no political appetite to allow them into the United States. Hagel added that he had a duty not to formally certify that any detainee could leave until there had been "substantial mitigation of risk of these individuals returning to the battlefield to threaten the United States or our people or our allies."
"Has there been a slowing of that [process], which hasn't always made me popular in some quarters? Yes," Hagel said.
"I've made that very clear to the president and to everyone, to the Congress: If it's my responsibility by law, which it is as secretary of defense, then I will do everything I can because the American people rely on that."
Of course, as NPR notes, Obama promised to close Gitmo as soon as he became president of the United States.