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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 ScottTrump should stick to his guns and close failed South Carolina nuclear MOX project Treasury releases guidance on 'opportunity zone' program created by Trump tax law Overnight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senators face Wednesday vote on Trump health plans rule | Trump officials plan downtime for ObamaCare website | Lawmakers push for action on reducing maternal deaths 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 RobertsEvangelical leader: Not worth risking ties with Saudi Arabia over missing journalist GOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters Congress allows farm bill to lapse before reauthorization deadline 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 GardnerElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Democrats must end mob rule GOP senators praise Haley as 'powerful' and 'unafraid' 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."