February 17, 2011 / 4:26 PM / 9 years ago

Chances of closing Guantanamo jail very low: Gates

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates listens to remarks at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the "Defense Authorization Request for FY2012" on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 17, 2011. REUTERS/Jim Young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday that prospects for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp were “very, very low” given broad opposition in Congress.

President Barack Obama has so far not been able to meet his promise to close Guantanamo, but the White House said this week he remained committed to doing so. The facility has drawn international condemnation for the treatment of detainees.

Gates, testifying to the Senate, saw little hope for any breakthrough with Congress, which approved a bill that Obama signed into law last month barring terrorism suspects at Guantanamo from being brought to the United States for trial.

“The prospects for closing Guantanamo as best I can tell are very, very low given very broad opposition to doing that here in the Congress,” Gates told a Senate hearing.

Obama is believed to be in the final stages of reviewing U.S. detention policy. He said in a May 2009 speech that there was a need for “prolonged detention” for some terrorism suspects who could not be tried but posed a threat to security.

In Washington on Wednesday, CIA Director Leon Panetta told senators that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden likely would be sent to the Guantanamo prison if he were ever captured.

Reporting by Phil Stewart; editing by Philip Barbara

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