White House Says Obama Still Wants To Close Guantanamo Bay Prison

“Progress has been made under this and the previous administration, but given the legislation that Congress has put in place it’s going to take some time to full close the facility,” spokesman says.

Bob Strong / Reuters

WASHINGTON — President Obama still wants to close the controversial prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba despite a lack of support in Congress or efforts by military officials to actually expand the facility, deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday.

Obama made closing GITMO one of the signature policy priorities of his first run for office, promising to shutter the facility that has become a symbol of the nation’s fight against terrorism.

“I can tell you that the administration remains committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,” Earnest said at the White House briefing. “Progress has been made under this and the previous administration, but given the legislation that Congress has put in place it’s going to take some time to full close the facility.”

Obama did try to close the detention facility for terrorist suspects early in his first term, but his efforts were met with stiff resistance in Congress. The most recent news about GITMO has been about Defense Dept. calls to expand the prison there.

The reiteration of Obama’s commitment to closing GITMO came amid a discussion of hunger strikes at the detention facility that have drawn new international scrutiny to the prison. Earnest said the administration is keeping an eye on the situation.

“The White House is closely monitoring the hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay,” he said.

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