Washington: Asserting his commitment to close the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday said that the prison is a no-man's land that is not only "expensive" and "inefficient" but also hurts America in terms of its international standing.
"I continue to believe that we've got to close Guantanamo. I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing," Obama said.
"It lessens cooperation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed," he said.
Responding to questions at a crowded press conference, Obama blamed the Congress for not letting him close Guantanamo. "The 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," he said.
"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 said.
Obama said Guantanamo is not sustainable. "The notion that 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-Qaeda core, we've kept the pressure up on all these transnational terrorist networks," Obama said.
"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," said the US President.
When asked about force feeding those on hunger strike in Guantanamo, Obama said he does not want them 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 said.
"We have got a whole bunch of individuals who have been tried who are currently in maximum security prisons around the country. Nothing's happened to them. Justice has been served. It's been done in a way that's consistent with our Constitution, consistent with due process, consistent with rule of law, consistent with our traditions," he said.
"The individual who attempted to bomb Times Square is in prison serving a life sentence. Individual who tried to bomb a plane in Detroit is in prison serving a life sentence," Obama said.
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