Obama Makes Case for Closing Gitmo

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WASHINGTON - Speaking at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., Thursday, President Barack Obama said Guantanamo Bay has set back America's moral authority in the world.

Rather than strengthening national security, Obama held that the prison camp for detainees has made the U.S. weaker.

Click play for more with CBN News White House Correspondent David Brody.

"Instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorists, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped Al-Qaida recruit people to its cause," he said. "Indeed the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained."

Obama's comments came after facing unexpected opposition from congressional Democrats.

In a decisive 90-6 vote Wednesday, Senators denied the president funding to close the facility until he has released details on how and where the 240 detainees will be transferred.

"Democrats under no circumstances will move forward without a comprehensive, responsible plan from the president, we will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States," Sen. Harry Reid.

Obama will lay out a framework he hopes will be acceptable to the democratically controlled Congress.  Thursday, he said he believes U.S. prisions are tough enough to hold the detainees.

But clearly, they are not on board now. Shortly after declaring the war on terror, the U.S. military opened the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with the purpose of detaining some of the world's most dangerous terror suspects.

Both Democrats and Republicans alike say they won't support shutting down the facility without first getting a detailed plan.

"Where are they going to be, how are they going  to be imprisoned, how are they going to be tried, and what are the rules regarding their release?" Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., questioned. "Until that is done, I think it is a mistake to talk about closing Guantanamo Bay."

The vote mirrors steps taken in the House last week, putting the White House plan in jeopardy.

Last month, the administration requested $80 million to pay for relocating the 240 detainees currently at Guantanamo. The administration also wants to send many of them overseas.

"We obviously are very hopeful that a number of nations will assist us in delivering on the President's commitment to close Guantanamo, and that will require the release and placement of a number of detainees," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

But convincing other governments to take them becomes trickier if they can't be even be transported to the U.S. to be imprisoned or tried.

Bringing terror suspects on American soil is a widely unpopular idea. Even as the vote came down Wednesday, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation voiced concerns that terrorists could run finances and radicalize other inmates if they were transferred to maximum security prisons in the homeland.

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CBN News
John Jessup & Jennifer Wishon

John Jessup & Jennifer Wishon

CBN News Washington Correspondents

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