Gitmo Not Closing By January
2009 09 26

From: CTV.ca


U.S. President Barack Obama may not be able to meet his stated goal of closing the much-criticized Guantanamo Bay prison by January as his administration runs into daunting legal and logistical hurdles to moving the more than 220 detainees still there.

Senior administration officials acknowledged for the first time Friday that difficulties in completing the lengthy review of detainee files and resolving other thorny questions mean the president's promised January deadline may slip.

Obama's aides have stepped up their work toward closure and the president remains as committed to closing the facility as he was when, as one of his first acts in office, he pledged to shut it down, said the officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity in order to more freely discuss the sensitive issue.

They said the White House still was hoping to meet the deadline through a stepped-up effort.

The U.S. military prison in Cuba was created by former President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a landing spot for suspected al-Qaida, Taliban and foreign fighters captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. But it has since become a lightning rod of anti-U.S. criticism around the globe. There are approximately 225 detainees still being held at the prison.

Obama promised soon after taking office -- and many times since -- to close the prison, arguing that doing so is crucial to restoring America's image in the world and to creating a more effective anti-terror approach.

But eight months after Obama's initial pledge and with only four months to go before the January deadline, a number of difficult issues remain unresolved. They include establishing a new set of rules for military trials, finding a location for a new prison to house detainees and finding host countries for those who can be released.

This has prompted top Republicans in Congress to demand that the prison stay open for now, saying it is too dangerous to rush the closure. Even Democrats defied the president, saying they needed more information about Obama's plan before supporting it. Congress is for now denying Obama funds to shut down Guantanamo.

After Obama's promise, administration officials and lawyers began to review the files on each detainee. At issue: which prisoners can be tried, and whether to do so in military or civilian courts; which can be released to other nations; and -- the hardest question -- which prisoners are too dangerous or their cases too compromised that they must be held indefinitely.

A major complaint surfaced immediately -- that the Bush administration had not established a consolidated repository of intelligence and evidence on each prisoner. It took longer than expected to build such a database, the officials said, because information was scattered throughout agencies and inconsistent.

Files have now been completed, and prosecutors have also concluded their initial review of the detainees and recommended to the Justice Department an unspecified number who appear eligible for prosecution, the officials told the AP. The Justice Department and the Pentagon now will work together to determine which prisoners should be tried in military courts and which in civilian ones, the officials said. They would not provide a number recommended for prosecution since it could change.

The decision on which prisoners will be prosecuted had been expected by Nov. 16, and the officials said they are on track to meet -- or beat -- that goal. Navy Capt. John F. Murphy, the chief military prosecutor, had said previously that about 65 cases are viable for prosecution.

Meantime, Obama has kept pending several war-crimes trials that were already in progress when he took office. The administration has asked judges to suspend all proceedings to give it time to complete its review of cases.

Also, Obama has adopted some changes to the military tribunals, but wants Congress to enact more to address criticism that the courts favour the prosecution and will not withstand constitutional challenges. That legislation is moving forward on Capitol Hill, but is not complete.

The government also must decide where inside the U.S. to move the detainees, and that highly fraught choice still has not been made, the officials said. A maximum security prison in Standish, Michigan, and the military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas are under consideration as possible locations. Whatever facility is chosen, the Pentagon will have to make improvements necessary to safely house the prisoners.

The officials noted that the U.S. prison system already holds 216 people convicted as international terrorists.

Another front in the effort to close the prison is the problem of finding countries willing to take in those detainees deemed eligible for release. The administration so far has transferred 14 prisoners to other countries, the officials said.

The administration will not "voluntarily release" any detainee inside the United States, the officials said. But this does not address what might happen if any of the detainees who are tried are found innocent -- a subject of considerable angst about Obama's plans, both in Congress and among the public. However, the U.S. could -- and likely would -- seek to transfer those people to other countries in that case, as none is a U.S. citizen.

Article from: CTV.ca



Related Articles
Mohammed Jawad: 'I was 12 when I was arrested and sent to Guantanamo'
Life After Guantanamo: Why the Media's Happy-Ending Narrative Is Totally Bankrupt
U.S. senate votes to block funds for Guantanamo closure
Ex-Bush Official: Many at Guantanamo Bay Are Innocent
Guantanamo Close - Prisoners Moved to EU
US hails Lisbon Guantanamo offer
US General 'duped' over Guantanamo Bay
Guantanamo operating manual posted on Internet
Angry Judge Considers Fate of Young Gitmo Detainee
Military: Gitmo detainee dies of apparent suicide
Officials: Gitmo court system likely to stay open
CIA Jet Carrying Four Tons of Cocaine Also Made Trips to Gitmo


Latest News from our Front Page

Document Confirms British were Plotting to Invade Germay Before Germany Invaded Poland
2014 09 02
The declaration of war against Germany had nothing to do with Poland, and was in fact a brutal war of aggression launched for economic reasons against the peaceful German people. As you can see in Judea Declares War on Germany. From dailymail.co.uk: An early version of the ‘King’s Speech’ reveals Britain was preparing to declare war on Germany before Hitler invaded ...
Study Claims Cave Art Made by Neanderthals
2014 09 02
A series of lines scratched into rock in a cave near the southwestern tip of Europe could be proof that Neanderthals were more intelligent and creative than previously thought. The cross-hatched engravings inside Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar are the first known examples of Neanderthal rock art, according to a team of scientists who studied the site. The find is significant because ...
EU Nanny State to Ban Toasters, Kettles & Hair Dryers!
2014 09 02
"Despite arctic sea ice growing by 43%, the EU nanny state is set to ban toasters, hair dryers and kettles in the name of preventing global warming."
Nigeria launches new biometric ID card - brought to you by Mastercard
2014 09 02
Yesterday afternoon, president Goodluck Jonathan became the first recipient of Nigeria’s new national eID card, in a ceremony at the presidential villa in the capital Abuja. The cards will be issued to 13 million Nigerians as part of a pilot project, with the ultimate aim of producing a national identity management system (NIMS). Nigeria’s NIMS is an ambitious attempt to consolidate ...
LA Times Now Describing Illegal Aliens As ’Informal Workers’ Who ’Labor Unofficially’
2014 09 02
Via Weasel Zippers, we learned the Los Angeles Times has a new term for illegal aliens in the work force: they’re “informal workers,” and that doesn’t mean they don’t arrive on the job in a tuxedo. Times reporter Tiffany Hsu (a "UC Berkeley grad") began her Saturday story with the new I-word (and illegal immigrants also “labored unofficially” in "gray employment"): Informal ...
More News »