The White House plans to transfer two detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Algeria, the first movement of prisoners out since the president announced a renewed push to close the military-run detention center in Cuba. The White House said it was starting the transfers as part of Obama's goal to close the prison, a campaign promise that has eluded him since he took office. "We are taking this step in consultation with the Congress, and in a responsible manner that protects our national security," said Obama press secretary Jay Carney in a statement.
A Pentagon spokesman said that under long-standing policy, the names of the two detainees will not be released until after the transfer. He also wouldn't say what security assurances they had from the Algerian government as part of the arrangement. A spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee said the panel has received the proper certification, which requires the defense secretary to ensure that in transferring a detainee to another country, the individual will not engage in terrorist activities. Assuming the transfers go through, that would leave 164 prisoners at Gitmo, about 70 of whom meet the criteria to be classified as being on hunger strike.