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Obama Condemns Congress for Failure to Close Guantanamo


FILE - A prisoner walks through a communal pod inside an area of the Guantanamo Bay detention center known as Camp 6, at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, June 7, 2014.

President Barack Obama conceded defeat in his efforts to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but he blamed Congress for his failure.

In a letter to Congress on Thursday, he condemned lawmakers for "placing politics above the ongoing cost to taxpayers."

The facility "never should have been opened in the first place," Obama said in the two-page letter sent on his last full day as president.

"There is simply no justification beyond politics for the Congress' insistence on keeping the facility open," he added.

Obama pledged when he became president eight years ago to close the facility in his first year, but lawmakers in both political parties blocked that effort.

He said the population there stood at 41 as of Thursday. A senior administration official confirmed that an additional four inmates had been transferred out of the prison.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed not just to keep Guantanamo open, but to boost the number of terror suspects housed there — even raising the prospect of U.S. citizens being sent to the facility.

"We're going to load it up with some bad dudes, believe me, we're going to load it up," Trump famously said while campaigning last year.

He separately said "it would be fine" if U.S. terror suspects were sent there.

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