12/26/2010 10:24 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Robert Gibbs: 'It's Going To Be A While Before' Guantanamo Closes

If there was one macro-lesson to be learned from the process -- painful as it was -- of overturning the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, it's that major legislative change can take time.

The Obama administration followed a process, entrusted Congress, and endured the (justified) impatience of the gay-rights community. Ultimately, it worked.

But it doesn't always go according to the legislative plan. And while the president followed through on his promise to overturn DADT, his failure to do the same on another campaign pledge -- the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay -- remains conspicuous, and no closer to any apparent resolution.

On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked when Gitmo was going to be closed, as the two-year deadline for the president's initial closure promise nears. "It's going to be a while before that prison closes" he told CNN's "State of the Union."

From the station's transcript:

CANDY CROWLEY: The first is, we are a month away from being a year late in closing down Guantanamo Bay prison. When is that prison going to close?

GIBBS: I don't -- it's certainly not going to close in the next month. I think it's -- I think it's going to be a while before that prison ...

CROWLEY: Another year?

GIBBS: -- closes. I think part of this depends on the Republicans' willingness to work with the administration on this.

The White House's inability to follow through on Gitmo's closure may be more about legal hurdles than a lack of political will or strategic missteps. But it also underscores how the president has been dependent on a compliant Congress. The administration, even in the most opportune of climates, couldn't find Republican backers (beyond the John McCain-Lindsey Graham nexus) to support Guantanamo's closure.