Obama to announce new effort to close Guantanamo Bay

But the Pentagon still wants $450 million for upgrading the prison

By Jillian Rayfield

Published May 23, 2013 1:02PM (EDT)

In a big counterterrorism speech on Thursday, President Obama will announce a renewed effort to close Guantanamo Bay prison, and will restart transfers of detainees to other countries, reportedly now including Yemen.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The U.S. has been in talks with the Afghan government about transferring Afghan detainees from Guantanamo. Human-rights advocates believe these detainees could be among the first transferred.

A U.S. official said the transfers to Yemen would begin slowly, starting with two or three detainees, to ensure Yemen can keep track of the detainees and prevent them from joining militant groups. The official said that transfers to Yemen could still be months away.

As the Washington Post reports, though, the Pentagon is still asking Congress for over $450 million to maintain and upgrade the facilities at Guantanamo Bay, a move that's at odds with the President's announcement:

The budget request for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 calls for $79 million for detention operations, the same as the current year, and $20.5 million for the office of military commissions, an increase over the current amount of $12.6 million. The request also includes $40 million for a fiber optic cable and $99 million for operation and maintenance.

The Pentagon also wants $200 million for military construction to upgrade temporary facilities. That work could take eight to 10 years as the military has to transport workers to the island, rely on limited housing and fly in building material.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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Barack Obama Detainees Guantanamo Bay Pentagon White House