President Obama asked Congress to join him in efforts to close the terrorist detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay, urging them to ignore the politics of the issue and work with his administration.
“I’m absolutely committed to closing the detention center at Guantanamo,” Obama said, arguing that the facility undermined national security and was “counterproductive” in the fight against terror and “contrary to our values.”
After describing the moral argument for closing the prison, Obama made a fiscal argument for closing the facility citing concern that money was being wasted.
He lamented that closing the prison had become a partisan issue, chiding members of Congress for opposing the idea because of politics.
“The public was scared into thinking that well, if we close it, somehow we’ll be less safe,” Obama said.
In spite of his urgency, Obama was vague about the political path to close the prison and didn’t specify where the terrorists in the facility would be transferred to U.S. soil.
He vowed to use all of his legal tools available to reduce the population of the prison, including a plan to accelerate a review process for remaining detainees.
“Given the stakes involved for our security, this plan deserves a fair hearing, even in an election year,” Obama said.
He reminded the press that both he and Joe Biden were not going to be on the ballot in November, giving them the freedom to pursue the issue in spite of the politics.
“Let us do what is right for America. Let us go ahead and close this chapter,” he said.
After his speech, Obama ignored questions from reporters who asked him if he would try to act unilaterally to close the facility.