WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The closure of the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention facility is a plausible achievement by the end of US President Barack Obama's term in office, if he can garner the support of the US Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced.
"I think there is a realistic possibility that could happen," Holder said at a Tuesday press conference when asked if there was a chance that Obama would close the prison by the end of his term in 2016.
"I think it will ultimately require the cooperation of Congress to reduce the level [of Guantanamo prisoners] to zero," Holder added.
The US attorney general said that there is a "host of reasons why Guantanamo should be closed", including the costs to US taxpayers of housing a prisoner at the detention facility, the foreign policy costs to the United States, and the use of the prison camp as a recruiting tool for America's enemies.
Under current US law, Obama must consult Congress before transferring Guantanamo detainees out of the facility. Further legislation is being considered by the US Senate to put a moratorium on the transfer of the remaining prisoners and prevent their relocation to the United States or Yemen.
Obama signed an order for the closure of Guantanamo Bay in 2009, after promising to shut the camp down during his election campaign, describing it as a sad chapter in America's history". The closure has not taken place yet.
The detention facility, located in Cuba, has been the subject of harsh criticism by human rights groups, governments and media since its establishment in 2002. Health workers, inspectors and former detainees have described the conditions at the camp as cruel and inhumane, reporting the use of torture.
Nonetheless, the prison camp is still in operation, although, according to Pentagon reports, the number of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay site has declined to approximately 130 during Obama's term in office.