Will Guantánamo close on time?
Halfway to President Obama’s deadline, basic aspects of the closure are undecided.
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Although the Guantánamo closure has encountered hurdles, there has been some progress. In June, three detainees were sent to Saudi Arabia, one was sent to Iraq, one to Chad, and four Uighurs were flown to Bermuda for resettlement. In addition, Italy has agreed to take three detainees, and talks are continuing with Palau in the South Pacific to resettle some of the 13 remaining Uighurs at Guantánamo.Skip to next paragraph
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On the prosecution front, one detainee, Ahmed Ghailani, has been transferred to New York for trial in federal court on charges of involvement in the Al Qaeda bombing of US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
Some administration officials insist the closure deadline can be met. They point to statements by the European Union of a willingness to consider accepting detainees.
Talks with allies in Europe suffered a setback when Congress barred the administration from bringing detainees to the US other than for prosecution. The move undercut US credibility in asking its allies to help close Guantánamo when the US itself is unwilling to accept detainees.
"It is not just that Congress has acted. This is a policy statement from the legislature that is directly at odds with the president's policy for [Guantánamo's] closure," says Laurel Fletcher, director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic and a professor at the University of California Berkeley School of Law.
The military prison camp at Guantánamo became a lightning rod for domestic and international criticism of the Bush administration's aggressive approach to the war on terror. It also became a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. Obama campaigned on promises to close the prison camp and shift US policy.
But the window for quick, decisive change may be closing, analysts say.
"There was a hope that the new administration would be riding a wave of diplomatic goodwill that would energize this process of finding resettlement opportunities abroad, and in some cases they have, but it has been very slow and halting," says Mr. Waxman.
Many of Obama's core supporters are disappointed by his willingness to embrace Bush-era antiterror policies such as preventive detention, expansive invocation of the state secrets privilege, and use of military commissions.