Obama says he’ll fight Gitmo 'until my very last day as president'

President Obama vowed to fight for the closure of the Guantanámo Bay detention center "until my very last day as president" in an interview with French news outlet iTELE that aired Tuesday. 

"Guantanámo continues to serve as a recruitment tool for jihadists, it is something we need to stop," Obama said. "I will make this argument until my very last day as president."

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The president promised during his 2008 presidential campaign to close the detention facility in Cuba, but has been blocked by Congress. 

Although he recently signed an annual defense policy bill that added restrictions to detainee transfers from the prison, he is expected to send a plan to lawmakers for closing the facility in the coming months. 

The president faces stiff opposition, however, with lawmakers pledging to keep the facility open unless there is an acceptable alternative. 

Obama also touched on the hot button issue of resettling Iraqi and Syrian refugees in the Europe and the U.S., calling some of the rhetoric in the U.S. "dangerous." 

"I think that some of the language that we have heard that describes widows or infants is somehow dangerous, is a mistake," he said. "I think it's dangerous because it changes the nature of who we are and then, the terrorists win."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican presidential candidate, has said he would not allow even Syrian orphans under 5 years of age to resettle in the U.S.

"What makes Paris special, what makes France special, what makes the U.S. exceptional, is that we do not define ourselves as a single tribe but we define ourselves based on our ideals and values," he said. 

"People of different backgrounds and different ways of life can come & say 'God Bless America' or 'Vive la France', because they feel a part of something," he added. 

He also sought to distance Islam from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130. 

"Every religion, wether it's Christianity, Islam, Judaism, defines a good person and a good life, based on what they do for others," he said. 

"When you look at what's happened with [ISIS], it finds appeal among people who are often isolated. People who feel displaced, alone, this gives them to attach themselves to, besides the fact that it's a cult of death," he said.

The president said the war against ISIS would not be won through military means, but would need a political solution that included Syrian President Bashar Assad's departure. 

"The issue is not simply winning a battle, the issue here is countries that are crumbling because of autocratic regimes like Assad's, because of lack of opportunity and jobs, because of sectarian conflicts," he said.

The president acknowledged that Russia and Iran "want to hang on to Assad," but said objective observers recognize "you can't end the civil war so long as the president is somebody who has killed hundreds of thousands of the citizens."

Obama said there was progress being made on the military front to strangle ISIS, and ultimately destroy them. 

 

"The truth is that in a free and open society, we will never completely eliminate the possibility of a single terrorist act happening in any given time, but what we can do is that we prevent the kinds of large scale attacks that result in so much death," he said.