14:49 GMT +318 August 2019
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    Obama Spokesman Slams Congress for Blocking Moves to Close Guantanamo

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    White House Press Spokesman Josh Earnest refused to rule out executive action by US President Barack Obama to close the Guantanamo detention facility for terrorists if Congress continued to refuse to act on the issue.

    WASHINGTON, (Sputnik) – Obama’s spokesman said the White House had been outspoken about the failure of both Republicans and Democrats in Congress to cooperate with the administration on shutting down Guantanamo before the end of the president’s second four-year term.

    "We have taken a number of steps to try to reduce the prison population there so we can get closer to closing the prison. The president and his team are always considering a wide array of options," Earnest told reporters on Air Force One on Monday accompanying Obama to Alaska.

    "We’ve been pretty blunt about the fact that Congress – members of Congress in both parties… have put in place significant obstacles that have prevented the administration from making nearly as much progress as we would like to make in closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay," he added. "And Congress has been effective in thwarting that effort."

    The spokesman noted that republican previous President George W. Bush had also wanted to shut down Guantanamo before he left office and that the continuing efforts to do so ought to be bipartisan.

    "We’re seeking to engage with Congress once again to try to get them to work cooperatively with the administration to pursue the kind of national security goal that isn’t just advocated by President Obama, it actually was advocated by former President Bush," he explained.

    Obama and Bush both recognized that Guantanamo was costly and detrimental to US national security goals, the spokesman added.

    "We’re hopeful… that Congress will acknowledge that what two presidents of different parties have now confronted… continuing to operate the prison at Guantanamo Bay is not just an unwise use of taxpayer dollars, it… poses an unnecessary risk to the national security of the United States," he stated.

    Earnest emphasized that Obama remained committed to closing down Guantanamo.

    "The president is eager to confront that by closing the prison, and finding a way that is consistent with our national security objectives of closing that prison," he said.

    Guantanamo’s prison population has now shrunk to 116 compared with its peak level of 684 in 2003.

    However, Congress has refused to permit the administration to move any of the remaining detainees to maximum security prisons or other holding facilities within the United States.


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    Guantanamo, White House, US Congress, Earnest, United States, Barack Obama
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