White House

Obama: I'm closing Guantanamo Bay prison 'once and for all'

A military officer stands near the entrance to Camp VI at the U.S. military prison for 'enemy combatants' in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
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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.

In nationally televised comments from the White House, Obama said he is submitting his plan to Congress.

"In this fight, we learn and we work to constantly improve. When we find something that works, we keep on doing it. When it becomes clear that something is not working as intended, ... we have to change course," Obama said. "For many years, it has been clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay does not advance our national security. It undermines it."

U.S. officials have said the plan to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and transfer the remaining terrorist suspects to a facility in the United States calls for up to $475 million in construction costs. But they say it would save as much as $180 million per year in operating costs.

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"Moreover, keeping this facility open is contrary to our values. It undermines our standing in the world; it is viewed as a stain on our record of upholding the highest standards of the rule of law," Obama said.

The plan is the administration's last-ditch effort to make good on Obama's campaign vow to close Guantanamo and persuade lawmakers to allow the Defense Department to move nearly 60 detainees to the U.S.

But the plan provides few details, and may only further antagonize members of Congress who have repeatedly passed legislation banning any effort to move detainees to the U.S.

"I am very clear-eyed about the hurdles to finally closing Guantanamo. The politics of this are tough," Obama said. "But part of my message to the American people is that we are already holding a bunch of really dangerous terrorists here in the United States because we threw the book at them."

"And there have been no incidents."

—CNBC's Fred Imbert contributed to this report.