WASHINGTON — Efforts to fulfill President Barack Obama's promise to close the prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay are not a priority in the US Congress, a top lawmaker indicated Tuesday.
"I think that is not an item, as you point out, of real current discussion," House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a top White House ally, told reporters.
"There are some very big issues confronting us dealing with growing the economy and Iraq and Afghanistan," so closing the facility "is not an issue that is being discussed very broadly, and I think that you are not going to see it discussed very broadly in the near term," said Hoyer.
Obama took office in January 2009 pledging to close down the prison in Cuba, which many around the world consider a symbol of excesses under former president George W. Bush and his "war on terror."
But the Obama administration missed a self-imposed deadline to shut it down within a year of taking office, has said some detainees may need to be held indefinitely without trial, and has struggled with where to try top suspects including alleged plotters of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this month that it was not yet clear where the co-plotters, including self-confessed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, would be tried but that he hoped it would be in a civilian US court.
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