More than six years after President Barack Obama signed an executive order requiring the Guantanamo Bay detention facility be closed within 12 months, the White House said Wednesday it is "in the final stages of drafting a plan to safely and responsibly close" the controversial military prison.
Delivering the news at an early afternoon press, White House press secretary Josh Earnest laid the blame for the long delay at the feet of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Both Democrats and Republicans, he said, had done their part to "repeatedly impede" the administration's efforts to charge, try or release detainees "despite bipartisan agreement that closing the prison is actually in the national security interests of the United States."
The timing of the announcement was eyebrow-raising in its own right, coming only hours after the New York Times published a long and detailed account of "the administration's fitful effort to shut down the prison," which, according to the story, was "collapsing again." Citing multiple sources inside the White House, the New York Times described a series of standoffs among high-ranking officials caught between their desires to fulfill the president's promise and the potential to cause a political crisis in the process.