Washington (CNN) – The United States is halting for now its plans to continue transferring terror suspects detained at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility to Yemen, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.
"While we remain committed to closing the (Guantanamo) facility, the determination has been made that right now, any additional transfers to Yemen is not a good idea," Gibbs told his daily media briefing. Critics of the Guantanamo transfers have raised concerns over political instability in Yemen and the presence of al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, noting that some previous detainees released to Yemen by the Bush administration have renewed their terrorist ties.
Gibbs said Yemen is "not capable of handling" additional returned detainees now.
On Sunday, Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan said the transfer of Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo back to Yemen would continue after careful review of the situation.
The United States is working with the Yemeni government to make sure "the situation on the ground is taken into account," Brennan said on CNN's "State of the Union."
"We're going to do this the right way at the right time," he said. Closing the Guantanamo facility is necessary because al Qaeda and others have used it as a propaganda tool against the United States, Brennan said.
Most congressional Republicans oppose closing the Guantanamo facility, and some Democrats and independents said Sunday that no detainees should be sent to Yemen due to the terrorist network operating there.
"It would be irresponsible to take any of the Yemeni detainees in Guantanamo and send them back to Yemen," Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut who belongs to the Democratic caucus, said on the ABC program "This Week."