President Barack Obama still plans to close the U.S. naval prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, his chief of staff Denis McDonough confirmed on Fox News Sunday.
Obama will present his plan to Congress about how the facility should be closed and look for their approval, McDonough said, according to Reuters. If Congress does not approve the plan, the White House will decide what to do, McDonough said.
“He feels an obligation to the next president. He will fix this so that they don’t have to be confronted with the same set of challenges,” he said.
During his presidential election campaign in 2008, Obama promised he would close the military prison, which held foreign terrorism suspects after the 9/11 attacks on the United States. And that promise has been a big part of his annual State of the Union addresses to the country since then.
Obama claims that the prison has been used as a recruitment tool in propaganda for groups such as al Qaeda. Plus, he says it is too expensive to keep around. There are 104 people in custody at the facility, Reuters reports.
The Obama administration has done what it can to transfer detainees to other countries. The administration said they would like to detain a small number of thm in a U.S. facility for national security reasons.
However, Congress has banned transferring the detainees to the United States.
McDonough did not say whether Obama would continue with his plans to close the prison using executive powers if Congress rejects his plan. “I’m not an if-then guy,” he said.
In other Obama news…
President Obama has made the decision to not publicly endorse a candidate before the Democratic primary election in 2016, McDonough said on Sunday.
“We’ll do exactly what has been done in the past,” McDonough said on NBC’s Meet the Press. He added that Obama would be “out there” after the primary election to support the Democratic candidate.