A team of U.S. defense officials has started surveying a medium security military prison in Charleston, South Carolina, to potentially hold detainees currently at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The team will conduct the surveys Wednesday and Thursday at the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station, according to defense spokesman Commander Gary Ross.
"These site surveys are necessary to determine potential locations for detaining a limited number of individuals in the United States, and to assess the costs associated with doing so,” Ross said.
He did not say where other site surveys will be conducted in the future.
A defense team looked at a facility in Leavenworth, Kansas earlier this month. The Leavenworth surveys began August 13.
50 Detainees to Move
The U.S. facility would need to hold about 50 of the detainees, according to a U.S. defense official. There are currently 116 prisoners at the detention center at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Many of the others are eligible for transfer to other countries.
President Barack Obama has made closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center a top priority, despite opposition among both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter suggested this week that the Guantanamo Bay military prison might need to stay open, despite the president’s efforts to shut it down.
"If they're detained at Guantanamo Bay, fine," Carter said. "I would prefer to find a different place for them."
Carter was speaking at a call-in event Tuesday with U.S. service members stationed around the globe.