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Obama to detail terrorism policy including drone attacks and Guantánamo Bay prison

In a national security speech, President Obama will explain his policies dealing with terrorism, the use of drone aircraft, Al Qaeda, and the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

By Staff writer / May 19, 2013

Activists mark the 100th day of a prisoners' hunger strike at Guantánamo Bay during a protest in front of the White House in Washington Friday. President Obama is scheduled to address Guantánamo, drone attacks, and other aspects of his counterrorism policy in a speech this week.

Joshua Roberts/REUTERS

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In what’s being billed by the White House as a major national security speech, President Obama this week will explain his policies dealing with counterterrorism, the use of drone aircraft, Al Qaeda, and the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

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“He will review the state of the threats we face, particularly as the Al Qaeda core has weakened but new dangers have emerged,” a White House official told reporters, according to The Washington Post. “He will discuss the policy and legal framework under which we take action against terrorist threats, including the use of drones. And he will review our detention policy and efforts to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay.”

Mr. Obama’s speech is scheduled to be delivered at the National Defense University on Thursday. It comes as the administration is under fire for its handling of the terrorist attack on the US diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, last November, which killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, and just a month after the Boston Marathon bombings said by its surviving suspect to have been retribution for US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When he first ran for the presidency in 2008, Obama pledged to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, but congressional opponents have been able to block that ever since.

"It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment for extremists. It needs to be closed," the president said recently.

Guantánamo Bay – “Gitmo,” as it’s called – in recent months has become even more problematic for Obama and the US's image.

“The renewed focus on Guantánamo Bay comes amid a widespread hunger strike among inmates there that has now gone on for more than 100 days,” the Guardian newspaper reported Sunday. “The protest, and disturbing reports on conditions at the camp and how inmates are being painfully force-fed, has led to calls to close the camp for good.”

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