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President Obama has been busy with a host of pressing issues since the start of his second term, but he hasn’t forgotten about the situation at Guantanamo Bay. The commander in chief has rehashed the discussion to close the prison, amid protests from some 166 inmates.

During an address Tuesday (April 30), Obama reiterated that the detention center “needs to be closed .” Administrative policy sites that no new inmates are to enter the prison, yet 86 remain– even though they have been cleared for release.

From TIME reports:

For months now, men have been starving themselves in Guantanamo Bay to get the attention of the American people. And for weeks these men, prisoners of the War on Terror, many of whom have been cleared for release, have had the attention of the White House, which is filled with officials, including the President, who sympathize with the prisoners’ plight.

“It’s not sustainable,” President Obama said Tuesday, breaking his silence about the protest against his own government. “I mean, the notion that we’re going to continue to keep over 100 individuals in a no-man’s land in perpetuity.”

Obama repeated a position he has long held: The detention facility needs to be closed, with the prisoners either transferred to third countries if they do not present a threat or to the United States for adjudication. “This is a lingering, you know, problem that is not going to get better,” he said. “It’s going to get worse. It’s going to fester.”

 

During his 2008 presidential run, Obama vowed to close the prison within his first term, but has had trouble getting Congress on board. According to Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), bipartisan opposition remains because the president “has offered no alternative plan regarding the detainees there, nor a plan for future terrorist captures.”

 

 

Photo: Saul Loeb

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