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Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General, Insists On Guantanamo Closure (PHOTOS)

AP     First Posted: 09/20/11 09:05 AM ET   Updated: 11/20/11 05:12 AM ET

By RAF CASERT, Associated Press

BRUSSELS — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the Obama administration will do its utmost to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay before next year's presidential elections despite political opposition.

Holder said at the European Parliament that even if the current administration fails to close it ahead of elections, it will continue to press ahead if it wins the November 2012 presidential vote.

Republican presidential rival Rick Perry has said he is happy the U.S. prison at Guantanamo has been kept open.

Holder said the administration wants to close the facility "as quickly as possible, recognizing that we will face substantial pressure."

The campaign promise to close Guantanamo has been a major problem for President Barack Obama since he took office. He had promised to close the prison within a year but it remains open as his campaign for re-election gets under way.

"We will be pressing for the closure of the facility between now and then – and after that election, we will try to close it as well," Holder said. "Some people have made this a political issue without looking at, I think, the real benefits that would flow from the closure of the facility."

The administration of George W. Bush opened the prison for terrorist suspects at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba, and Obama, amid a clamor on both sides of the Atlantic to close the prison, vowed to do just that and move the detainees elsewhere.

In December, congressional conservatives spearheaded legislation that barred the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States. In several other congressional votes last year, many Democrats joined Republicans in opposing bringing such prisoners to the U.S. for trial or detention.

Holder also said that the United States would stick to the "fundamental break" with some interrogation techniques that were criticized around the world as amounting to torture.

Some suspected terrorists faced sleep deprivation and the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding. In the wake of U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May, a debate began over the extent to which such techniques led to the hideout where Bin Laden was found and killed.

"We have indicated that certain techniques that were used previously are in fact torture, and will not be engaged in again by the United States," Holder said.

See photos of Guantanamo Bay below:

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  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo, where 70 prisoners are detained, on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Getty)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo, where 70 prisoners are detained, on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows 'comfort items' given to the detainees: newspaper, games and one PS3 for the whole camp at Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo where 70 prisoners are detained on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows a silence sign inside the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo, where 70 prisoners are detained, on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows a class area in the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo, where 70 prisoners are detained, on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows a cell in the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo, where 70 prisoners are detained, on Guantanamo October 23, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows a senior medical officer demonstrating how the detainees who refuse to eat are fed with a feeding tube in the hospital of the Guantanamo Bay Camp VI in Guantanamo. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows Lieutenant Colonel Andrews McManus, deputy commander of the Joint detention group commander, inside the hospital for the detainees of the Camp VI in Guantanamo Bay. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows a recreation area in Camp VI in Guantanamo Bay. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows Camp VI in Guantanamo Bay. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows Camp VI entrance in Guantanamo. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows Camp VI in Guantanamo Bay. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • <em>Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission.</em> A U.S. military guard tower stands on the perimeter of a detainee camp at the U.S. detention center for 'enemy combatants' on September 16, 2010, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. With attempts by the Obama administration to close the facility stalled, some than 170 detainees remain at the detention center, which was opened by the Bush administration after the attacks of 9/11. The facility is run by Joint Task Force Guantanamo, located on the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay on the southeastern coast of Cuba. (John Moore/Getty Images)

  • Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows Camp Justice, where the media is housed on Guantanamo, October 22, 2010. (Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images)

  • <em>Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission.</em> A U.S. military guard tower stands on the perimeter of a detainee camp at the U.S. detention center for 'enemy combatants' on September 16, 2010, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (John Moore/Getty Images)

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