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US Plan to Close Guantanamo Bay Detention Center

FILE - The front gate of Camp Delta is shown at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

President Barack Obama outlined Tuesday his administration's plan for closing the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The administration's efforts to close the detention facility include:

1. Identifying transfer opportunities for eligible detainees.

The detention center at Guantanamo Bay once held nearly 800 detainees. More than 85 percent have been transferred, including more than 500 by former President George W. Bush's administration, as well as 147 by Obama's administration.

Of those 147 detainees, 81 were transferred to Middle East countries, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula; 47 to countries in Europe and Asia; 13 to the Americas; and six to the South Pacific.

As of Tuesday, 91 detainees remain at the center. Of those, 35 have been determined eligible for transfer. The State and Defense departments are working to find suitable countries for those detainees.

2. Reviewing by fall 2016 the threat posed by detainees currently not eligible for transfer and those who are not facing military commission charges.

3. Continuing military commission prosecutions for those currently charged.

Currently, three active cases involving seven accused are in the pretrial phase, and there are two cases in which detainees have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. The three active cases are litigating pretrial matters — many involving complex facts or legal questions — and remain in discovery.

The military commission system currently costs $91 million per year and is expected to continue for several years.

For detainees who remain designated for detention, they will be considered, on a case-by-case basis, for dispositions including military commission or foreign prosecution, transfer to a third country, or transfer to the U.S. for prosecution, should Congress lift the ban on such transfers.

Even with these three efforts, the administration expects there will be a limited number of detainees who are deemed too dangerous to release.

The administration said it will work with Congress to relocate those detainees who are not eligible for transfer or who are not candidates for prosecution to a secure detention facility in the continental United States while continuing to find other appropriate and lawful non-U.S. dispositions.

Based on a 2015 survey, the Department of Defense was able to identify 13 potential U.S. facilities that could safely and securely house Guantanamo detainees for purposes of military commissions and law of war detention.

In fiscal 2015, the cost to operate the Guantanamo Bay detention center was approximately $445 million, according to the administration. The administration estimated a one-time transition cost to be between $290 million and $475 million, but it suggested the lower operating costs and fewer detainees would generate $335 million in net savings over 10 years.