Sen. John McCain announced Friday that he is on his way to the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
McCain revealed the surprise trip casually via Twitter Friday morning, noting only that the trio was “headed down to review the situation at Guantanamo Bay prison.”
The bipartisan trip is particularly significant after President Obama two weeks ago announced renewed plans to shutter the island prison and to begin the process by releasing some of the 166 remaining detainees, the majority of whom are from Yemen, to their home countries.
Feinstein, D-Calif., chairs the powerful Intelligence Committee, and had previously called on the administration to halt detainee transfers to Yemen in early 2010 after the botched terrorist Christmas Day bombing of a commercial flight headed to Detroit.
Days after the failed attack, news broke that the now-convicted terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had ties to Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which claimed to have helped him plan the attack and supplied him with the underwear bomb. After Obama’s speech to the National Defense University last month in which he said he would redouble his efforts to close the prison, Feinstein said she too supported the move, including gradually releasing some detainees back to their countries of origin.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, both Obama and McCain pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay prison but Congress has thwarted those plans ever since.