CLEVELAND (AP) — President Barack Obama says if he could start his presidency over, he would have closed the Guantanamo Bay prison his first day.

Instead, the president ordered the detention center for terrorism suspects closed within a year. He says the politics around closure grew increasingly tough and "people got scared by the rhetoric."

He said Wednesday that "the path of least resistance was just to leave it open." He's been able to cut the population down to 122 detainees, but Congress has blocked closure.

Lawmakers have banned the Obama administration from bringing detainees to the United States for imprisonment or trial.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter testified before Congress Wednesday that the administration needs to work with lawmakers to find a "lawful" way to close the prison.