President Donald Trump said he doesn’t plan to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which was built by the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which he said has been “watered down and abused” under President Barack Obama.
Trump said Tuesday that Guantanamo Bay is an “important part of our national security” and he said that if Congress “gets to the bottom of it” it would be “very sad to see” the facility closed.
But, he added, he will work with Congress to find a way to “close Guantanamo Bay.”
“It’s a terrible place,” Trump said.
“It was built to be used as a place of detention, but I’m not going to take the handcuffs off and close it.”
Trump made the comments at a news conference in the Oval Office after meeting with Defense Secretary James Mattis.
He also defended the decision to end the military detention program and the use of the military’s “black site” prison in Guantanamo Bay.
“We were very clear that we were not going there to do what some people wanted to do,” Trump told reporters.
“And we have a very, very strong relationship with the United States military, and we’re very close.
We were very good with them, but we were very close.”
Mattis told reporters that Trump is “very open to trying to do a lot of things.”
He said that Trump will continue to seek a negotiated settlement to the U:S.
dispute with Iran, and he expects to continue negotiating with other nations in the region to try to reach a negotiated resolution.
“I think he’s a very open person.
I think he wants to make the best deal that he can for our country, and I think that will continue,” Mattis said.
But the president has not yet said what he would do to close the detention center, which holds some 1,200 prisoners and is the largest in the world.
The facility has been home to some of the most dangerous detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was held at Guantanamo for nearly five years before he was captured in 2012.
Trump has vowed to close all of the detention centers, though he has repeatedly pledged to keep some prisoners there.