Obama asks US Congress to work for closure of Guantanamo base

Obama asks US Congress to work for closure of Guantanamo base

President Barack Obama has asked the US Congress to work with his administration for the closure of the much-criticised terrorist detention centre at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, the continuation of which he argued is not in America's national interest.

"The Guantanamo detention facility's continued operation undermines our national security. We must close it. I call on members from both sides of the aisle to work with us to bring this chapter of American history to a close," the US President said in a statement.

Obama said he has repeatedly called upon the Congress to work with his administration to close the detention facility at Guantanamo once and for all.

"As I have said many times, the continued operation of this detention facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists. Closing the detention facility is a national imperative," he said.

"Individuals from across the political spectrum have recognised that the facility should be closed. But instead of removing unwarranted and burdensome restrictions that curtail the executive branch's options for managing the detainee population, this bill continues them," Obama said.

Section 1032 of the NDAA 2015, signed by him, he said renews the bar against using appropriated funds to construct or modify any facility in the United States, its territories, or possessions to house any Guantanamo detainee in the custody or under the control of the Department of Defence unless authorised by the Congress.

Section 1033 likewise renews the bar against using appropriated funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the United States for any purpose.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2015, contains similar provisions as well as those relating to existing restrictions on the transfer of detainees abroad, he said.

"I have consistently opposed these restrictions and will continue to work with the Congress to remove them. More than 80 per cent of detainees at one time held at the detention facility have now been transferred," he added.

"The executive branch must have the flexibility, with regard to those detainees who remain, to determine when and where to prosecute them, based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests, and when and where to transfer them consistent with our national security and our humane treatment policy," Obama said.

"Under certain circumstances, the provisions concerning detainee transfers in both bills would violate constitutional separation of powers principles.

In the event that the restrictions on the transfer of detainees operate in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my Administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict," the President said.

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