Pres. Obama Unveils Plans to Close the U.S. Prison in Guantanamo Bay

February 23rd 2016

Kyle Jaeger

President Obama put forth his plan to close the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Tuesday after the Pentagon released a report detailing the transfer of the remaining 91 detainees. The development comes eight years after the president originally campaigned on a promise to oversee its closure.

Guantanamo Bay prision

"When we find something that works, we keep on doing it," Obama said. "When it becomes clear that something is not working as intended — when it does not advance our security — we have to change course," Obama said in a national address on Tuesday. 

"For many years, it's been clear that the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security. It undermines it... It's counterproductive to our fight against terrorists because they use it as propaganda in their efforts to recruit."

The prison, which was instituted in 2002 following the September 11 attacks, held 242 detainees when Obama took office. Prisoners have been actively transferred to other countries over the course of his administration. Now the Pentagon plans to place up to 60 of the remaining detainees in high security prisons in detention centers in the U.S. The rest will be transferred to other countries.


Obama emphasized the economic benefits of closing the Guantanamo Bay facility, where each detainee is said to cost about $3 million per year, USA Today reports. The U.S. Department of Defense will have to spend between $290 million to $475 million to renovate domestic facilities before their transfer, but those costs are expected to be repaid in savings over the course of three to five years.

"Moreover, keeping this facility is contrary to our values, it undermines our standing in the world, it is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law," Obama said.

While the president has been barred by federal law from authorizing the transfer of detainees to U.S. soil in the past, Congress included a provision in a defense policy bill signed by Obama last year that required his administration to develop a plan to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. Tuesday was the deadline to release that plan.

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