President Obama Announced Pentagon Plan To Close Guantanamo

Time: 7:59 p.m. CEST

President Barack Obama supports the Pentagon plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and said that Department of Defense is submitting to Congress plan for final closing facility of Guantanamo, once for all.

Obama talked from the White House with Vice President Josef Biden and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter standing next to him, while he explained the reasons why he bakes the decision for a closure of this facility on Cuba.

“For many years, have been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security, it undermines it,” Obama said.

The facility only in the last year spend $450 million to keep it running, and more $200 million for going forward in the last decade for less than a 100 detainees. Despite high budgetary expanses, the facility pr0vokes reaction among many world leaders and undermines their relations with the U.S.

“Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values, it undermines our standing in the world, it is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding higher standards of the rule of law,” Obama explained. The President underlined that even his predecessor, President Bush to his credit said he wanted to close it.

“It was one of the few thing that my Republican opponent, Senator John McCain and I agreed on,“ Obama explained.

About 800 detainees once held in Guantanamo, more than 85% have already been transferred in other countries.

“More than 500 of these transfers occurred under President Bush. Since I took office, we transferred 107 more, each under new significant restrictions that keep them from returning to the battlefield. Because of this action, today just 91 detainees remain,” Obama, added.

Here is what the President said on the plan:

First, we’ll continue to securely and responsibly transfer to other countries the 35 detainees — out of the 91 — that have already been approved for transfer.  Keep in mind; this process involves extensive and careful coordination across our federal government to ensure that our national security interests are met when an individual is transferred to another country.  So, for example, we insist that foreign countries institute strong security measures.  And as we move forward, that means that we will have around 60 — and potentially even fewer — detainees remaining.

Second, we’ll accelerate the periodic reviews of remaining detainees to determine whether their continued detention is necessary.  Our review board, which includes representatives from across government, will continue to look at all relevant information, including current intelligence.  And if certain detainees no longer pose a continuing significant threat, they may be eligible for transfer to another country as well.

Number three; we’ll continue to use all legal tools to deal with the remaining detainees still held under law of war detention.  Currently, 10 detainees are in some stage of the military commissions process — a process that we worked hard to reform in my first year in office with bipartisan support from Congress.  But I have to say, with respect to these commissions, they are very costly, they have resulted in years of litigation without a resolution.  We’re therefore outlining additional changes to improve these commissions, which would require congressional action, and we will be consulting with them in the near future on that issue.  

I also want to point out that, in contrast to the commission process, our Article 3 federal courts have proven to have an outstanding record of convicting some of the most hardened terrorists.  These prosecutions allow for the gathering of intelligence against terrorist groups.  It proves that we can both prosecute terrorists and protect the American people.  So think about it — terrorists like Richard Reid, the shoe bomber; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up an airplane over Detroit; Faisal Shahzad, who put a car bomb in Times Square; and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who bombed the Boston Marathon — they were all convicted in our Article III courts and are now behind bars, here in the United States.

So we can capture terrorists, protect the American people, and when done right, we can try them and put them in our maximum-security prisons, and it works just fine.  And in this sense, the plan we’re putting forward today isn’t just about closing the facility at Guantanamo.  It’s not just about dealing with the current group of detainees, which is a complex piece of business because of the manner in which they were originally apprehended and what happened.  This is about closing a chapter in our history.  It reflects the lessons that we’ve learned since 9/11 –lessons that need to guide our nation going forward.  

So even as we use military commissions to close out the cases of some current detainees — which, given the unique circumstances of their cases make it difficult for them to be tried in Article 3 courts — this type of use of military commissions should not set a precedent for the future.  As they have been in past wars, military commissions will continue to be an option when individuals are detained during battle.  But our preferred option, the most effective option for dealing with individuals detained outside military theaters, must be our strong, proven federal courts.

Fourth, and finally, we’re going to work with Congress to find a secure location in the United States to hold remaining detainees.  These are detainees, who are subject to military commissions, but it also includes those who cannot yet be transferred to other countries or whom we’ve determined must continue to be detained because they pose a continuing significant threat to the United States.  

We are not identifying a specific facility today in this plan.  We are outlining what options look like.  As Congress has imposed restrictions that currently prevent the transfer of detainees to the United States, we recognize that this is going to be a challenge.  And we’re going to keep making the case to Congress that we can do this is a responsible and secure way, taking into account the lessons and great record of our maximum-security prisons.

 Related reading:

Full Remarks by President Barack Obama on plan to close Guantanamo


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