Harry Reid On Guantanamo: 'Nobody's Fault' Prison Camp Hasn't Closed

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 29:  U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (R) speaks to members of the press as Senate
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 29: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (R) speaks to members of the press as Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) looks on after the weekly Senate Democratic Policy Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol January 29, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats gathered at the luncheon to discuss Senate Democratic agendas. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said at a Tuesday press conference that it was "nobody's fault" the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is still open four years after President Barack Obama promised to close it. Reid blamed Congress for making it "legislatively impossible" to shutter Guantanamo -- but offered no sign he will push to loosen restrictions on closing the facility this congressional session.

Reid's comments come just one day after the White House reassigned the full-time special envoy working on fulfilling a 2009 Obama executive order to close the Guantanamo camp.

Asked by a reporter whether the reassignment of the envoy was the "nail in the coffin" for Obama's Guantanamo pledge, Reid responded, "Well, it's something we're still looking at." Then he turned the question over to one of his top deputies, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Durbin, however, was no more reassuring. "Listen, I supported the president's position on Guantanamo, but Congress didn't. He didn't have the votes," Durbin said. "The president saw that. I think he measured it properly and said we need to move on."

"It's nobody's fault," Reid explained. "The president can't do things unilaterally. He has to deal with Congress, and dealing with Congress made it legislatively impossible to do. What he wanted to do was to close Gitmo."

Eleven years after the Guantanamo camp opened, and four years after Obama issued his executive order to close the prison, the gap between what the president wanted to do and what he actually has done keeps growing wider. Meanwhile, the ongoing military trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed highlights the failure of the administration to prosecute him and other 9/11 plotters in a civilian court.

During his first presidential run, Obama made closing Guantanamo a central element of his pledge to break with the Bush years. But in 2009, Senate Democrats, led by Reid, cut off money to close Guantanamo, frustrating Obama's early plans to transfer prisoners there to the United States. Earlier this month, Obama signed the 2013 Pentagon budget bill into law -- despite his own threats to veto the legislation over provisions that effectively forbade him from closing the detention camp.

Obama's signature on the defense bill, and Reid's comments on Tuesday, throw further cold water on prospects that Guantanamo will close any time soon.



Inside Guantanamo Bay