By Frank James
President Barack Obama on Tuesday reaffirmed his intention to close the prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba even though he also acknowledged it would need to remain open for the time being because of his administration's decision to suspend the transfer of Yemeni nationals to their homeland following the Christmas Day airline bomb plot.
In his statement delivered Tuesday in the White House's Grand Foyer, Obama said:
Finally some have suggested that the events on Christmas Day should cause us to revisit the decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. So let me be clear.
It was always our intent to transfer detainees, to other countries, only under conditions that provide assurances that our security is being protected. With respect to Yemen in particular, there is an ongoing security situation which we have been confronting for some time, along with our Yemeni partner.
Given the unsettled situation, I've spoken to the attorney general. And we've agreed that we will not be transferring additional detainees back to Yemen at this time.
But make no mistake. We will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al Qaeda.
In fact, that was an explicit rationale for the formation of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
And as I've always said, we will do so -- we will close the prison in a manner that keeps the American people safe and secure.