The Obama administration announced Friday its intention to repatriate two prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility to Algeria.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement that the Defense Department notified Congress of the transfer, which will be done "in a responsible manner that protects our national security."
The administration does not need congressional approval for such transfers when DOD certifies that the prisoners do not constitute a threat to national security, officials said. Several other prisoners at Guantanamo have been repatriated to Algeria in past years.
President Obama has been criticized by civil liberties advocates for failing to make good on his 2008 campaign promise to close the Gitmo prison. Obama has said he has been stymied by Congress in that effort, and Carney called on lawmakers Friday to lift restrictions that hamper the administration's ability to transfer detainees.
During a speech on his national security policies this spring, Obama was interrupted by a protester who shouted him down, demanding that he close Gitmo.
“The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to,” Obama said then. Obama said it is “my responsibility to solve the problem” of Guantanamo, which he called “a symbol around the world of an America that flouts the rule of law.”