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The Pentagon on Thursday pushed back against criticism from Capitol Hill, saying that the administration has the legal authority to visit prisons around the U.S. to evaluate the cost and logistics of closing Guantanamo Bay.

A team of officials from the Pentagon has visited state, federal and military detention facilities in Kansas, South Carolina and Colorado this year to assess what type of facility could house Gitmo detainees who can not be released as the administration tries to close the military prison before 2017.

But Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., has questioned the legality of these site visits since previous defense policy bills prohibit spending taxpayer dollars to assist with the transfer of detainees to the United States.

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Asked about the legality of paying for these site visits, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said the department is within the law.

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