- The Washington Times - Monday, August 10, 2009

The White House national security adviser said Sunday he is confident the administration will meet its goal of closing the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility for terrorism suspects by January.

“We have every intention of doing so, and there’s a lot of work going on every single day to make sure that we find the right solution,” said adviser James L. Jones on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I’m confident that we’ll be able to meet that deadline.”

Mr. Jones, in a separate appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said, “There are some things on the table that we can’t necessarily talk about right now, but hopefully there are some signs here that we will find the right way to do this” by the president’s deadline.

The Senate’s top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said any attempt to shut down the facility will be met with strong resistance on Capitol Hill by both parties.

“I think Congress will be, on a bipartisan basis, aggressively opposing the closing of Guantanamo, particularly when there’s no plan to move them anywhere else,” Mr. McConnell said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The senator said that closing the prison, which has received millions of dollars in upgrades since it became a primary holding facility for terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, would be a huge waste of taxpayer money.

“This is a program that is not broke and doesn’t need fixing,” he said.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, said he agreed with Mr. Jones that the Guantanamo Bay facility will be shut down by January.

“Yes, I think it is being done, and the White House assured me as of yesterday that they are on track to get us that plan in the time required by law,” Mr. Levin said on “Face the Nation.”

The senator said Republican attempts to portray opposition to closing the facility as widespread is misleading, pointing to leaders such as former President George W. Bush, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Gen. David H. Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, who all agreed that keeping the facility open was not feasible.

“There is a very broad consensus among some of us, the key leaders in this country, that we need to close it, because it is a security threat as long as we keep it open,” Mr. Levin said.

The Michigan lawmaker added that he would support relocating some Guantanamo prisoners to his home state, provide the move was approved by Democratic Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm and local authorities.

“We should not be cowed by the terrorists so that we don’t even keep them in maximum-security prisons in the United States,” he said. “We can’t allow the terrorists to be intimidating us from trying them and keeping them in our jails.”