(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama again declared his commitment to close the terrorist prison in Guantanamo Bay, a commitment he formalized in a January 2009 executive order. At that time, he vowed to close Gitmo within a year, something that never happened.
“It needs to be closed,” Obama said in response to a question at a news conference on Tuesday. “Now, Congress determined that they would not let us close it and despite the fact that there are a number of the folks who are currently in Guantanamo who the courts have said could be returned to their country of origin or potentially a third country. I'm going to go back at this.
“I've asked my team to review everything that's currently being done in Guantanamo, everything that we can do administratively, and I'm going to re-engage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that's in the best interests of the American people,” he added.
A reporter asked, “Mr. President, as you're probably aware, there's a growing hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay, among prisoners there. Is it any surprise, really, that they would prefer death rather than have no end in sight to their confinement?”
Obama responded, “Well, it is not a surprise to me that we've got problems in Guantanamo, which is why, when I was campaigning in 2007 and 2008 and when I was elected in 2008, I said we need to close Guantanamo.”
“I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe,” Obama said. “It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists.”
The president added that the prison is “not sustainable.”
“We're going to continue to keep over a hundred individuals in a no man's land in perpetuity, even at a time when we've wound down the war in Iraq, we're winding down the war in Afghanistan, we're having success defeating al-Qaida core, we've kept the pressure up on all these transnational terrorist networks, when we've transferred detention authority in Afghanistan – the idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried – that is contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop.”
With regards to the terror suspects on a hunger strike, Obama said, “I don't want these individuals to die. Obviously, the Pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best as they can, but I think all of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this.”
He further said these prisoners can be housed in the United States.
“The individual who attempted to bomb Times Square – in prison serving