Obama told about 40 family members in an at-times emotional discussion on Friday that his goal was to keep the country safe.
The prison for terrorism suspects is widely seen as a stain on the United States’ human rights record. Obama took action in his first week in office, ordering an end to controversial trials by military tribunals there.
“He explained why he believes that closing Guantanamo will make our nation safer and help ensure that those who are guilty receive swift and certain justice within a legal framework that is durable, and that helps America fight terrorism more effectively around the world,” a White House statement said.
D. Hamilton Peterson, whose father and stepmother, Donald and Jean Peterson, died on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, said he opposed the prison’s closure but appreciated the president’s candor.