Serwer sees the new defense bill as a sign that Obama may actually be able to shut down Gitmo after all:
The defense bill would clear the way for the majority of the remaining detainees, 82 out of 162, to be transferred abroad. An earlier Senate version of the bill had also allowed Gitmo detainees to be brought to the US for trial, while the House version had preserved prior restrictions on transfers of detainees. The resulting compromise between the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate nevertheless leaves intact a ban on bringing Gitmo detainees to the US for trial, leaving a number of detainees to an uncertain fate–even as it paves the way for most of the men currently detained at the facility to leave. More could be cleared for transfer as the administration conducts its reviews of the detainees left at the facility. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama vowed to close the facility. The defense bill would make it easier to keep that promise, which has remained unfulfilled a year into his second term.
Benjamin Wittes supports the bill:
The administration will cast this as a step forward for closing Guantanamo. I don’t care a fig about whether Guantanamo stays or goes. I do care a lot, however, about holding people we don’t need or want to be holding, and this bill would go a long way to restoring the administration’s flexibility to transfer detainees it wishes to get rid of. That’s a very good thing—whatever one thinks of Guantanamo.