Obama vows to 'keep working to shut down' Gitmo

Obama vows to 'keep working to shut down' Gitmo
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President Obama vowed to keep working to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay in his final State of the Union on Tuesday night.

"I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo. It’s expensive, it’s unnecessary and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies," he said to applause from supporters.

Obama's comments come as his administration steps up efforts to reduce the prison population at Gitmo. Officials have transferred four detainees in the first two weeks of this year, bringing the Gitmo population down to 103. The administration is expected to release 13 more detainees this month.

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The president has less than a year to fulfill his 2008 campaign pledge to close the facility, by transferring detainees approved for release and moving the remainder to a facility in the U.S.

The White House has said the president will work with Congress to close the prison but suggested he could take executive action if lawmakers fail to act. 

Defense officials have scoped out facilities in Kansas, Colorado and South Carolina. Republican senators from those states fired off a joint statement during the speech, saying using executive action to shut down the facility would harm national security. 

“The President’s ongoing attempts to relocate dangerous international terrorists to domestic sites on US soil are dangerous, plain and simple. There is absolutely no need to put a target on an American community when we already have a world-class facility guarded by well-trained Marines to hold these detainees," said Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottWhy President Trump’s 'both sides' argument has merit GOP senator: 'There is no realistic comparison' between antifa and white supremacists Trump on white supremacists: ‘Pretty bad dudes on the other side also' MORE (R-S.C.). 

“The intention to send terrorists to the mainland is just another of the Obama Administration’s misguided strategic national security decisions,” Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsNo. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight Overnight Healthcare: McConnell warns Senate not to block repeal debate | Insurers knock Cruz proposal | WH tries to discredit CBO | Lawmakers propose .1B NIH funding boost Trump: I’ll be ‘very angry’ if Senate doesn’t pass ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Kan.) said. “Closing Guantanamo will never endear radical Islamic fundamentalists to America. It will simply move these detainees and their security risks north, to one of the communities in our states.”

"The American people and Congress have been extremely clear: Guantanamo Bay houses some of the world's deadliest terrorists,” added Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGOP senator calls on China, 20 other countries to cut ties with North Korea Week ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny It is time to make domestic terrorism a federal crime MORE (R-Colo.). "They do not belong back on the battlefield fighting against us, nor do they belong on U.S. soil. Bringing them here would be reckless and dangerous. The President should abandon this misguided political plan."