Obama wishes he closed Gitmo on first day

Obama wishes he closed Gitmo on first day
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CLEVELAND -- President Obama said Wednesday that if he could go back, he would close the Guantanamo Bay military prison on his first day in office. 


“I think I would have closed Guantanamo on the first day," Obama said during a speech to the City Club of Cleveland. 

Obama said he did initially move forward with closing the base because there was not enough bipartisan support to shutter the facility in a "deliberate fashion."

The president said the base is used by terrorist groups around the world for propaganda against the U.S. 

Obama has long pushed to shutter the controversial facility, one of his 2008 campaign promises, but has faced obstacles from Republican lawmakers.

Congress has passed measures preventing Obama from transferring detainees to U.S. soil or building facilities here to hold them.

In his State of the Union earlier this year, Obama reiterated his vow to close the facility.

"I will not relent in my determination to shut it down," he said.

In recent months, the administration has stepped up transfers of detainees to other countries, sparking criticism from Republicans who fear they will return to the fight.

A Senate panel last month approved a bill from Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyottePoll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Sununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate MORE (R-N.H.) that would suspend the transfer of medium- and high-risk suspects and block the president from sending detainees to some countries viewed as security risks.

The White House has threatened to veto that bill.