Obama submits plan to US Congress to close down Guantanamo Bay detention center

Washington: US President Barack Obama today said he is submitting to the Congress a four-point plan to shut down the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention center. 

The plan includes identifying a facility in the US to transfer the remaining inmates from this high-profile prison.

Reiterating his view that the Gitmo detention facility does not advance America's national security, Obama said: "Let us go ahead and close this chapter and do it right. And do it carefully. And do it in a way that makes sure we're safe." 

Barack ObamaUS President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Ash Carter, speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, on Tuesday, to discuss the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Obama administration released its long-awaited plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer remaining detainees to a facility in the United States. Pic/AP/PTI 

Alleging that the Republican-controlled Congress has repeatedly imposed restrictions aimed at preventing his administration from closing the facility, Obama said despite this they have been able to transfer 147 detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

"As a result of these actions, today, just 91 detainees remain, less than 100," he said.

Unveiling his four-point plan, Obama said the US will continue to securely and responsibly transfer to other countries the 35 detainees out of the 91 that have already been approved for transfer.

"Second, we'll accelerate the periodic reviews of remaining detainees to determine whether their continued detention is necessary," he said. "Three, we'll continue to use all legal tools to deal with the remaining detainees still held under law of war detention." 

Currently, 10 detainees are in some stage of military commission's process, he added.

Citing the example of terrorists like Richard Reid, the shoe bomber; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up an airplane over Detroit; Faisal Shahzad, who put a car bomb in Times Square, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who bombed the Boston Marathon, the President said all these were all convicted in US courts and are now behind bars in the United States. 

"So we can capture terrorists, protect the American people, and when done right, we can try them and put them in our maximum security prisons and it works just fine. And in this sense, the plan we're putting forward today isn't just about closing the facility at Guantanamo," Obama said.

Obama said his plan is about closing a chapter in US history.

"It reflects the lessons that we've learned since 9/11, lessons that need to guide our nation going forward," he said.

According to the President, his administration will work with Congress to find a secure location in the United States to hold remaining detainees.

However, the Republican leadership in the Congress were quick to oppose the Obama's plan.

"After seven years, President Obama has yet to convince the American people that moving Guantanamo terrorists to our homeland is smart or safe. And he doesn¿t seem interested in continuing to try," said Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representative.

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