WASHINGTON — White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and two leading senators on national security reaffirmed their support for closing the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after visiting the facility on Friday.
In a joint statement issued by McDonough and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and John McCain, the officials said they appreciated the service of those in charge of the 166 terror suspects detained at Guantanamo. Feinstein is the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and McCain is the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee.
“We continue to believe that it is in our national interest to end detention at Guantanamo, with a safe and orderly transition of the detainees to other locations,” they said in the statement. “We intend to work, with a plan by Congress and the administration together, to take the steps necessary to make that happen.”
President Barack Obama has renewed his 2008 campaign promise to close the naval facility. The president’s declaration came amid a widespread hunger strike among detainees.
White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said before the visit that McDonough wanted to review the situation at the prison and discuss how to work with Congress to meet the president’s goal of closure.
Obama has faced strong resistance in Congress from Republicans and some Democrats who don’t want the terror suspects transferred to the United States or foreign countries. Congress has repeatedly voted to keep the facility open.