Obama Launches Second Bid to Close Guantanamo Bay

Mike O'Brien

President Obama announced on Tuesday that for the second time he will try to close down the prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Addressing a news conference in the White House, the President said he would reengage Congress on the issue, adding: "It needs to be closed. I'm going to go back at this."

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Mr. Obama first tried to shut down the detention center when he came to power in 2008. Congress thwarted his efforts and made it harder to move prisoners elsewhere.

Since then, releases and transfers have become rare, giving detainees little hope of ever being released. Of the 166 inmates, 100 are now on hunger strike.

The President added that he's not surprised there are problems at the facility. "This is a lingering problem that is not going to get better. It's going to get worse," he said.

He said Guantanamo was necessary after the Sept. 11 attacks, but the time has now come to close the prison for major terror suspects.

"I am going to reengage with Congress that this is not in the best interest of the American people," Mr. Obama said.

As the questions turned to Syria’s possible use of chemical weapons, the President would not be drawn on whether U.S. military action would be called for.

He said his administration would have to rethink its options if it was confirmed that Syria’s President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his own people.

He said: "We don't know how they were used, when they were used or who used them. "If we end up rushing to judgment without hard, effective evidence, then we can find ourselves where we can't mobilize the international community to support what we do."

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