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 ScottSenate votes to confirm Neomi Rao to appeals court Breaking down barriers for American military families Top House Dem dismisses reparations as 2020 candidates endorse idea 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 RobertsPompeo jokes he'll be secretary of State until Trump 'tweets me out of office' Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law Kansas Senate race splits wide open without Pompeo 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 GardnerConservation remains a core conservative principle How to stand out in the crowd: Kirsten Gillibrand needs to find her niche Overnight Defense: Trump to reverse North Korea sanctions imposed by Treasury | Move sparks confusion | White House says all ISIS territory in Syria retaken | US-backed forces report heavy fighting | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan 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."