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  • Guantanamo Bay remains opens, seven years after President Barack Obama promised to shut it down.

    Guantanamo Bay remains opens, seven years after President Barack Obama promised to shut it down. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 August 2015

At least 44 of 116 people still detained have been legally cleared for release by Periodic Review Boards, yet they remain imprisoned.

Guantanamo Bay needs to be closed during President Barack Obama's time in office, said U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter Thursday, warning the head of state that his time is running out.

President Obama promised U.S. citizens nearly seven years ago that closing the controversial detention center would be one of his priorities during his presidency.

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However, with less than two years left in office, Guantanamo remains open, while at least 116 people remain detained, according to recent figures from June, 2015.

“As long as this detention facility remains open, it will remain a rallying cry for jihadi propaganda,” Carter told reporters at a press conference at the Pentagon.

The defense secretary added that the issue is something that he and the president both agree on, as Obama attempts to make a final push to close the military prison.

“This is not something, in my judgment, that we should leave to the next president,” said Carter, adding, “It's expensive ... And not something the president wants to leave to his successor.”

Many of the reasons why closing the facility has been such a drawn out process is that many of the detainees cannot be sent back to their home countries for safety reasons, and finding willing countries to take them in has proven challenging. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was also pressured to resign partially because of his slow pace in approving such transfers.

Of those still detained in Guantanamo, at least 44 have been cleared for release by a periodic review board, but remain imprisoned.

Until recently, the U.S. Congress has also refused to bring any of the prisoners into the country.

However, according to Carter, that may soon change. Defense officials have been assessing destinations in the U.S – including Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and the Navy Brig in Charleston, South Carolina – as possible places to relocate prisoners.

Any transfers to the U.S. are likely to be highly controversial within the Republican run Congress, however Carter said his department plans to put together a concrete plan for lawmakers to consider.

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