President Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed to "once and for all" close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer remaining detainees to a facility in the U.S., though his plan does not specify where.
Obama said that despite significant political hurdles and congressional opposition he is making one last effort to shutter the facility.
"I don't want to pass this problem on the next president, whoever it is. Are we going to let this linger on for another 15 years?" he said, in an appearance at the White House. "Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values. It undermines our standing in the world. It is viewed as a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law."
Here are the reactions of some North Carolina political figures:
Sen. Richard Burr
"President Obama's aggressive push to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is dangerous. Recently, we learned that one of the former prisoners at Gitmo is back fighting for Al-Qaeda's terrorist agenda. It's clear that the threats to the United States are increasing, not decreasing, and we need every available military asset. As President Obama continues to court the Castro regime, I believe it is important that Congress makes clear that he cannot give up our base in such a strategic location."
Sen. Thom Tillis
"So many brave men and women from North Carolina have risked their lives to capture Islamic terrorists and send them to Guantanamo Bay, where they no longer pose a threat to the world. It's unbelievable that President Obama is now calling for transferring these dangerous terrorists to American soil. The Obama administration's transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo to other countries has already proven to be an unmitigated disaster, resulting in terrorists returning to the battlefield to jeopardize the national security of America and our allies. I will do everything I can to help stop the President's plan and keep Guantanamo terrorists out of America."
U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers
"Our president has continued to misjudge the threat of Islamic extremism, and this last-ditch effort to fulfill a campaign promise reaffirms that. Closing a base in a communist country rife with human rights violations signals a full retreat to every country around the world. Guantanamo Bay is not just a prison-it's a military facility serving as our eyes and ears to monitor dictators, thugs and drug traffickers alike. We cannot stand for this, and Congress must do everything within our power to hold strong against the president's reckless decision."
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson
"At a time when the American people's number one concern is national security, the president is doubling down on his dangerous campaign promise to shutter Guantanamo Bay. Despite the president's attempts, folks continue to agree that we don't want these war criminals and hardened terrorists transferred to American soil - which current law prohibits - or transferred to other countries to return to the battlefield against us. I am confident that Congress will scrutinize the proposal and reject any plan that puts our national security at risk."
Taylor Griffin, Republican candidate for Congress, Third District
"President Obama's plan to close Guantanamo Bay, which Congressman Walter Jones has supported in the past, is reckless and poses a serious threat to our national security and our military personnel. Many of the terrorists released by President Obama have returned to terrorist activities in the Middle East. Congressman Jones was the only Republican to join 144 House Democrats in a letter urging the closure Guantanamo Bay in 2007. Furthermore, it is disappointing that Congressman Jones joined Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats in rejecting the most recent National Defense Authorization Act, which not only prohibited the closing of Guantanamo Bay, but provided a pay raise for service members and critical funding for Cherry Point and other eastern North Carolina military bases. I strongly urge the Congressman Jones to reconsider his support for closing Guantanamo Bay. Protecting our national security and the lives of our men and women in uniform is far too important."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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North Carolina leaders react to plan to close GITMO