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10 Years After Gitmo Opened, NPR Says Obama “Not Much Closer To Closing Guantanamo Today Than He Was On The Campaign Trail”

January 11th, 2012 by mopns · No Comments

Several news reports are noting this week’s tenth anniversary of the opening of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. NPR writes, “There is a certain permanence to Guantanamo that is unexpected, given that President Obama unequivocally promised to close the place. The president is not much closer to closing Guantanamo today than he was on the campaign trail when he made it one of his signature issues.”

According to NPR, “There are still 171 detainees at Guantanamo, and about 80 of them have been identified for release. Another three dozen will likely be tried in the military commissions, and then there is this other group — the group that seemed destined to be held indefinitely. There are 48 detainees who seem to fall into that category. The U.S. has said they don’t have enough evidence to try them, but the men are too dangerous to release.”

This is another hint of the Obama administration’s tacit acknowledgement that Guantanamo is a necessary part of the War on Terror and shows the problem with political pronouncements being made from the White House about closing the facility while still not having a plan to do so.

Indeed, The Washington Post notes that among those the administration has considered releasing is a former Taliban deputy defense minister accused of participating in war crimes: “Last month, it was reported that the administration had seriously considered transferring five Afghan detainees as part of a package of mutual confidence-building with the Taliban. Initially, it was proposed that the five would be held under house arrest in Qatar. But for some activists, the prospect of renewed movement on emptying the detention center was clouded by the inclusion of Mohammad Fazl, a former Taliban deputy defense minister, on the list of those who could take their first steps toward freedom in a villa in Doha. Almost immediately after Fazl’s capture, in late 2001, Human Rights Watch urged the U.S. government to ensure that the former Taliban commander be brought before a tribunal to answer allegations that he had a role in war crimes committed by Taliban forces in central Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001.”

In an op-ed for CNN today, former Attorney General Ed Meese summarizes the need for Guantanamo. He writes, “There have been 779 detainees at Guantanamo. Today, there are only 171. But over the past decade, we have not only kept dangerous terrorists at Guantanamo and thus away from the battlefield, we have learned a great deal from them during long-term, lawful interrogations. Without a safe, secure detention and interrogation facility, we would not have gained the tactical and strategic intelligence needed to degrade and ultimately defeat the enemy. . . . All things considered, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has played an invaluable role in the war against terrorists by keeping them off the battlefield and allowing for lawful interrogations. Neither the Bush nor Obama administrations has offered a reasonable and feasible alternative to Guantanamo. Unless and until a safe, reasonable alternative facility is proposed, the United States should continue to use Guantanamo as a detention, interrogation and military commissions’ facility.”

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