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Obama makes new push to close Gitmo

Thursday - 5/23/2013, 5:20pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's a new push by President Barack Obama to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba -- something he pledged to do when he first ran for president in 2008.

In a speech at the National Defense University today, Obama said the politics of closing Guantanamo will be difficult -- but he made the case that "history will cast harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism."

As a step toward jump-starting that process, Obama says he's lifting a moratorium on prisoner transfers to Yemen. He had halted all transfers of prisoners to Yemen after the failed 2009 bombing attempt of an airliner over Detroit. The convicted bomber had trained in Yemen.

Of the 56 prisoners at Guantanamo who are eligible for transfer, 30 are from Yemen.

Ever since Obama took office, he has sparred with Congress over the fate of the prisoners at Guantanamo and whether they can be brought to trial on U.S. soil. In the meantime, they have been held for years, with diminishing hope that they will be charged with crimes or given trials.

The Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon, says he is open to a proposal from Obama on the future of Guantanamo Bay -- but he says the plan has to consist of more than just political talking points.

%@AP Links

235-a-14-(President Barack Obama, speaking at National Defense University)-"to other countries"-President Obama says he's easing the path toward moving Guantanamo detainees to other nations. (23 May 2013)

<> 00:14 "to other countries"

234-a-12-(President Barack Obama, speaking at National Defense University)-"never been opened"-President Obama says Congress needs to lift its restrictions on transferring Guantanamo detainees. (23 May 2013)

<> 00:12 "never been opened"

236-a-12-(President Barack Obama, speaking at National Defense University)-"of our country"-President Obama says the failure to close Guantanamo will be judged harshly in the future. (23 May 2013)

<> 00:12 "of our country"

APPHOTO WX103: FILE - In this July 16, 2009 file photo, reviewed by the U.S. military, flags hang above the sign marking the Camp Justice compound, the site of the U.S. war crimes tribunal, at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. President Barack Obama's speech national security speech Thursday is expected to reaffirm his national security priorities -- from homegrown terrorists to killer drones to the enemy combatants held at the military-run detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- but make no new sweeping policy announcements. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File) (16 Jul 2009)

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