At his news conference on Tuesday, President Barack Obama for the first time in years spoke about the controversial detention center at Guantanamo Bay, which he had promised to close when he first took office.
“Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe,” Obama said, responding to a reporter’s question. “It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.” He went on to acknowledge that more than half the detainees have been officially cleared for release.
As if to forestall the obvious next question – then why hasn’t he closed it? – the president blamed the prison’s continued existence on Congress. “Congress,” he said, “determined that they would not let us close it.”
Though Congress has made closing the prison difficult, Obama is the one who put his legacy on the line by ordering its closure within days of assuming office. It’s still in his power to follow through.
In his remarks, Obama began to acknowledge this, pledging to “examine every option that we have administratively to try to deal with this issue.” He actually has many such options.