WASHINGTON -- Two Guantanamo Bay detainees will soon be headed home to Algeria.
Following what one military official called an "intensive review," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel notified Congress he has signed off on transferring the detainees to the North African country. After the transfers, Guantanamo will still be holding 84 detainees who have been cleared for transfer. The transfers will bring Guantanamo's population down to 164.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. "remains determined to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay." He added that the administration continues "to call on Congress to join us in supporting these efforts by lifting the current restrictions that significantly limit our ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo, even those who have been approved for transfer."
The Pentagon did not release the names of the detainees who were being transferred, but said the transfers were only approved after an extensive review.
"Over the past few months, a very senior interagency team conducted an intensive review of this matter. Based on their recommendations, and as mandated by Congress, Secretary Hagel signed off on the legal requirements to move forward with the transfer these detainees," Pentagon official George Little said in a statement. "Secretary Hagel fully supports the President's goal of closing Guantanamo Bay and this upcoming transfer brings us closer towards reaching that goal."
The Senate Judiciary committee held a hearing earlier this week on closing Guantanamo as the hunger strike at the base that began back in February continues on. As of Friday morning, 68 detainees were being tracked as hunger strikers and 44 were approved to be force-fed, according to a military official.