This Tuesday [January 12, 2016] President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough sat down with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday for a preview of the President’s message.
McDonough says President Obama “feels an obligation to his successor” to close Guantánamo Bay detention camp, also called Gitmo.
Questioned whether Obama would use an executive order (as with immigration and gun control issues) to close the facility, McDonough said: “The president just said he’s going to present a plan to Congress and work with Congress and then we’ll make some final determination. I’m not an ‘if when’ guy. I said we’re going to close it. (Obama) just said he’s going to present a plan to Congress to do that.”
The U.S. detention facility on the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in southeastern Cuba was constructed in stages starting in 2002. Gitmo was used to house suspected terrorists captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
The facility became the focus of worldwide controversy over alleged Geneva Convention violations and accusations of abusive treatment of detainees. The camp was repeatedly condemned by international human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for alleged human rights violations, including the use of torture during interrogations.
On January 22, 2009, Obama fulfilled a campaign pledge by ordering the Closure Of Guantanamo Detention Facilities within one year and a review of ways to transfer detainees to the United States for imprisonment or trial. He also required interrogators to use only the techniques contained in the U.S. Army’s field manual on interrogation. The closure of the Guantánamo camp was subsequently delayed by opposition from Republicans and some Democrats in Congress, who argued housing the detainees in prisons on U.S. soil would imperil national security.
President Obama’s Final State of the Union is January 12, 2016 at 9pm ET.