Barack Obama: Guantanamo Bay undermines national security and needs to close

Credit: Reuters

Barack Obama has outlined plans for the closure of Guantanamo Bay in a statement to Congress today.

The President said that rather than advancing national security, the controversial detention centre in Cuba is actually counterproductive to the fight against terrorism.

He said that the facility drains military resources, undermines the standing of the US in the eyes of other countries and is contrary to America's values.

"This is about closing a chapter in our history," he said during his address.

Mr Obama pointed to the fact his Republican rivals, former President George Bush and Senator John McCain, had both supported the closure of Guantanamo.

Mr Obama's said that the closure "suddenly" became a partisan issue during his time in office and he did not want to "pass the Guantanamo problem" onto another President.

Soldiers on guard at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba Credit: RTV

He outlined a four-point plan to close the centre completely:

1. Securely and responsibly transfer to other countries the 35 prisoners out of the remaining 91 who have already been approved for transfer

2. Accelerate the periodic reviews of remaining prisoners to determine whether their continued detention is necessary or whether they may be eligible for transfer to another country

3. Continue to use all legal tools to deal with remaining detainees - 10 are still in some stage of the costly and lengthy military commissions process

4. Work with Congress to find a secure location in the US to hold the remaining detainees. This includes those currently subject to military commissions, those who cannot yet be transferred to other countries, or those who continue to pose a significant threat to the US

Guantanamo Bay in Cuba Credit: RTV

We can capture terrorists, protect the American people and when done right, we can try them and put them in our maximum security prisons and it works just fine.

Barack Obama

Last year Shaker Aamer became the last British detainee to be released from Guantanamo Bay.

The 46-year-old had spent 14 years in the military prison but was never tried for any offence.