President Obama renews his push to close Guantanamo detention facility

Friday, May 3, 2013

With over 100 Guantanamo Bay detainees in a hunger strike against their incarceration, President Barack Obama, on Tuesday, renewed his push for the closure of the facility.

President Obama addressed a news conference at the White House on Tuesday saying he would have a team of officials review the issue before again appealing to Congress to close the prison holding "terror" suspects in Cuba. "I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe," he said. "It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens co-operation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed."

These remarks were made after 40 US Navy medical staff were sent to the facility to deal with the growing hunger strike that began on February 6 this year, where twenty one inmates are now being force fed; five of those are in hospital. "I don’t want these individuals to die," President Obama said.

Calls by the Center for Constitutional Rights however, have called for President Obama to transfer men from the facility now; a power he has over Congress. "He should use the certification/waiver process created by Congress to transfer detainees, starting with the 86 men who have been cleared for release," the New York-based group said.

When asked for greater details about President Obama’s intentions, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the president was "considering a range of options for ways that we can reduce the population there," including "reappointing a senior official at the State Department to renew our focus on repatriating or transferring" lower-risk detainees.