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  • President Rubio Would Reopen AND Expand Gitmo If Obama Closed It

    Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Monday if President Barack Obama closes Guantanamo, he’ll open it back up if elected.

    Not only would he reopen the prison, he’d make it larger.

    According to Rubio, there is “tremendous value” in having a detention center to store detainees who otherwise would be planning attacks against the homeland or gathering important intelligence to deliver to other terrorists, the Miami Herald reports.

    We’re not taking the amount of value created by Guantanamo seriously enough, Rubio said, who also sits on the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees. Obama’s record on the number of prisoners released, especially the six men sent to Uruguay, is “atrocious,” in terms of recidivism rates. Rubio is confident that the next president will have to deal with the consequences of Obama’s actions.

    Back in March, Obama stated in a speech to the City Club of Cleveland that if he could return to the start of his presidency, closing Guantanamo Bay right then and there would have been his first order of business. The Obama administration continues to point to the facility as a key driver of terrorism and a tool for groups to bring in new recruits.

    At his State of the Union address earlier this year, Obama vowed not to give up his goal. “I will not relent in my determination to shut it down,” he said. That refusal to relent resulted in the resignation of former Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was known for his opposition to the plan to quickly shutter the facility. However, Obama has also faced his most heated opposition from a Republican-dominated Congress.

    Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s bill was recently approved by a Senate panel. The bill would grind to a halt all transfers of detainees viewed as high or medium risk. Additionally, some countries would not be allowed to accept detainees because of an uncertain security environment. In response, the White House has made clear that it intends to veto the legislation if it passes.

    Only 122 prisoners remain in Guantanamo Bay. Fifty-five have been cleared for transfer.

    Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, both 2016 presidential candidates, have not formally stated a policy on Guantanamo.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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