The president delivered his speech at the US National Archives - a highly symbolic location where the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights are kept. He attacked Bush-era anti-terror tactics, saying they were rooted in fear and ideology. Mr Obama took on critics on the right who believe "anything goes" in the fight against terrorism, as well as allies on the left who, he said, put total transparency above national security.
Earlier this week, the US Senate rejected plans to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo Bay and voted against funding the decommissioning of the prison camp. Mr Obama defended his plan, insisting that there was no danger in holding prisoners in maximum-security prisons in the US.
"I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al-Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture, like other prisoners of war, must be prevented from attacking us again. Having said that we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded...That’s why my administration has begun to re-shape the standards that apply, to ensure that they are in line with the rule of law." Listen to the interview - mp3