President Barack Obama on Monday lamented his administration’s struggle to close the prison at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba during a press conference on Monday afternoon, attributing some of the difficulty with shuttering the facility to restrictions put in place by members of Congress.
“With respect to Guantanamo, it is true that I have not been able to close the darn thing, because of the congressional restrictions that have been placed on us,” the president said.
“What is also true, is we have greatly reduced the population,” Obama added. “You now have significantly less than 100 people there. There are some additional transfers that may be taking place over the next two months.”
Almost eight years ago, as one of his first-ever acts as president, the president vowed to close Guantanamo. Earlier this year, he presented a plan to close the facility to Congress, criticising its legality and they way it has affected the US’ reputation.
“Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values,” Obama said in February. “It undermines our standing in the world. It is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law.”
That plan involved transferring many of the detainees still held there to other countries and moving others deemed too dangerous to send abroad to facilities in the mainland US. Republicans leveled criticism at the proposal almost immediately, citing the risk of released detainees pursuing terrorist activities in the future.
A plethora of issues, including financing the transfers and arranging other countries to take the detainees, has hindered moving Guantanamo prisoners to other countries. And according to Obama, legal issues have stymied efforts to try other suspects in the US.
“There is a group of very dangerous people that we have strong evidence of having been guilty of committing terrorist acts against the United States,” the president said Monday.
“But because of the nature of the evidence — in some cases that evidence being compromised — it’s very difficult to put them before a typical Article III court,” he continued, referring to federal courts.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.