- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2017

In a final venting at Congress for failing to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, President Obama told lawmakers Thursday that keeping open the detention center for terrorism suspects makes “no sense.”

“History will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism and those of us who fail to bring it to a responsible end,” Mr. Obama said in a letter to congressional leaders. “Once again, I encourage the Congress to close the facility.”

Mr. Obama has reduced the prison’s population to 41, down from 242 when he took office, by transferring detainees to other countries willing to accept them. But lawmakers in both parties have resisted his plans to close the facility and move the remaining detainees to prisons on the mainland U.S.

“No person has ever escaped one of our super-max or military prisons here, ever,” Mr. Obama said. “There is simply no justification beyond politics for the Congress’ insistence on keeping the facility open.”

President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to keep Guantanamo open and send more terrorism detainees there. Mr. Obama, former President George W. Bush and other officials in both parties have said the prison serves as a recruiting tool for terrorist networks.

“Guantanamo is contrary to our values and undermines our standing in the world, and it is long past time to end this chapter in our history,” said Mr. Obama, whose presidency ends at noon on Friday.

Of the remaining 41 detainees, five have been determined eligible for transfer to other countries. The remainder are either subject to ongoing military commission proceedings, serving a sentence handed down by military commissions, or have been determined by the president’s national security team to pose such a risk that they should continue to be held under the laws of war.

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