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Congressman Steve Israel: ‘Endless detention is not a good idea’

Updated

New York Congressman Steve Israel echoed the Obama administration’s pledge to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, saying it should be closed “in a safe and sensible way.”

“All deserve to be tried and punished for the crimes they committed,” Israel said Wednesday on Jansing & Co.

Of the 166 remaining detainees, 86 have been approved for release.

President Obama renewed his 2008 campaign promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility for terror suspects during Tuesday’s press conference but blamed Congress for holding him up. The president fielded a question over the detention facility amid ongoing news that a majority of prisoners at Guantanamo have been engaged in a hunger strike since early February, sparked by protests over searches of the detainees’ Korans. Five detainees have been hospitalized.

“Some should be sent back to where they came from, as long as we can keep an eye on them, [and] as long as the conditions are safe and secure to do so,” said Israel, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Some ought to remain in the United States.”

He advocated holding the prisoners in a SuperMax detention facility on U.S. soil.

“Endless detention for the rest of the lives of these people is not a good idea. It is not sensible,” Israel said. “It becomes a target for recruiting of terrorists. So we ought to close it, but close it in a way that maintains our national security, that reflects the values we have as a culture, as a society, and as a democracy,”

President Obama’s effort to close the detention facility in 2009 fell flat in Congress, and the Senate voted last November to prohibit the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S.

Congressman Steve Israel: 'Endless detention is not a good idea'

Updated