WASHINGTON, April 4 (UPI) -- Two prisoners of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were transferred to Senegal, the Department of Defense announced Monday.
Salem Abu Salam Ghereby and Omar Khalif Mohammed Abu Baker Mahjour Umar, both Libyans, were cleared for transfer by the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force, which "examined a number of factors, including security issues," the Defense Department statement said, in recommending their relocation. With their transfer, 89 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.
President Barack Obama presented a plan for closing the detention facility, a longstanding goal of his administration, on Feb. 23. He noted that it cost the United States $450 million to keep it open in 2015, and that it will cost $200 million a year to keep it open going forward for fewer than 100 detainees.
Obama's plan included transfer of most detainees to other countries, with those regarded as too dangerous to transfer to be relocated to unnamed prisons in the United States.
The proposal was overruled by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee in March that a change in federal law would be needed before any detainees could be moved to the United States, citing the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets policies and funding levels for the Defense Department.
"While there certainly are the ongoing efforts to transfer individuals from Guantanamo Bay, individuals are not able to be transferred from Guantanamo Bay to a facility on U.S. soil. The president would have to work with Congress," she said.
The Republican-dominated Congress, including some Democrats, oppose closing Guantanamo.