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Obama's Chief of Staff: We're going to close Guantanamo Bay

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Official White House Photo by Pete Sousa/UPI
Official White House Photo by Pete Sousa/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said on Sunday that President Barack Obama will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay before he leaves office.

Closing down Guantanamo Bay was a promise Obama made when he first took office seven years ago. Obama has argued that the detention center has outlived its usefulness and is too costly to maintain.

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"Let me be clear: the president has said from the beginning of this administration that we will close GITMO because it's bad for our national security and because it's too costly -- $4 million per year... per detainee, that's a travesty," McDonough told Fox News. "He feels an obligation to his successor to close that, and that's why we're going to do it."

McDonough said Obama will "present a plan to Congress and work with Congress and then we'll make some final determination" when he was asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace if Obama planned to close down the facility by using executive orders.

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"I'm not an 'if when' guy," McDonough said. "I said we're going to close it. He just said he's going to present a plan to Congress to do that."

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Obama previously said he would wait until "Congress has definitely said no" to a plan to close down Guantanamo Bay before he would make any decisions on executive orders. Congressional Republicans have halted Obama's previous efforts to close down Guantanamo Bay for fears that if detainees are released to countries in the Middle East, they may return to alleged terrorist activities.

Al Jazeera reports that 104 detainees are currently held in Guantanamo Bay, 88 of which having been imprisoned there for more than 10 years. Nine Guantanamo Bay detainees have died while in custody.

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The Pentagon recently announced the repatriation of Guantanamo Bay detainee Faez Mohammed Ahmed Al-Kandari to Kuwait after multiple agencies "determined continued law of war detention of Al-Kandari does not remain necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States."

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