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Eli Lake

Military Tells Congress It Can't Send Gitmo Detainees to U.S.

That complicates at least one of Obama's campaign promises.
Lt. General William Mayville Jr. says the Joint Chiefs see a hurdle to closing Gitmo.

Lt. General William Mayville Jr. says the Joint Chiefs see a hurdle to closing Gitmo.

Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Just as President Barack Obama is planning to send Congress his plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison this year, leaders of the military say it will not transfer any detainees to the U.S., unless the law prohibiting such transfers is changed.

Lt. General William Mayville Jr., the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said as much in a letter to Congress last week, which I obtained. Mayville's letter gets to the heart of a knotty constitutional issue on Guantanamo: Does President Obama have the authority to close the facility without the consent of Congress?