WASHINGTON D.C. – The Guantanamo Bay detention centre could be closed and the 166 inmates could be sent to prisons in the US, according to a new government report.
“This report demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperilling our national security,” said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman who released the recommendations.
The Government Accountability Office study shows that US prisons already hold 373 prisoners convicted of terrorism in 98 facilities across the country.
“As far as I know, there hasn’t been a single security problem reported in any of these cases,” Senator Feinstein said.
“This fact outweighs not only the high cost of maintaining Guantanamo – which costs more than $114m a year – but also provides the same degree of security without the criticism of operating a military prison in an isolated location.”
The study said there are six Defence Department prisons and 98 Justice Department prisons that could take the detainees.
But it does say that existing facilities may need to be modified and current inmates may need to be relocated to make room for the new arrivals.
President Barack Obama ordered the closing of the Guantanamo detention centre when he took office in 2009, but that was blocked by a Republican-led bill that cut off funding to move the detainees to the US.
The politicians cited security concerns, saying the presence of the detainees would encourage terror attacks in the states or cities where they were being held.
Senator Feinstein commissioned the study in 2008 to find out where the detainees could be held, if the White House was able to move ahead with Guantanamo’s closure.