Delay in Guantanamo closure due to White House failings: report

[JURIST] The likely failure to meet the self-imposed deadline for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility [JURIST news archive] is due to several missteps by the Obama administration, according to a report [text, PDF] released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress (CAP) [advocacy website]. In the report, the CAP criticized the White House for several shortfalls in its decision-making process. According to CAP, these shortfalls include failing to sufficiently staff the review task force and misreading Congress on key issues. The report also claims that the administration's most significant mistakes were the decisions to keep a modified version of the Bush-era military commissions and its request of Congress for $80 million to close the facility and relocate the detainees, which provided impetus for Congressional opponents to obstruct the process. The report was quick to spread responsibility for the failure onto the previous administration and political opponents:


The challenges in closing Guantanamo have been significant and the criticism that President Barack Obama has received from many quarters has been as irresponsible as it is unrelenting. This political pressure should not cause the Obama administration to back away from necessary change. Modest reforms, while welcome, are not sufficient if it leaves the Bush administration's detention regime largely intact.

The report went on to propose several steps that should be taken by the administration in closing the detention facility, including extending the deadline to July 2010, prosecuting those held at Guantanamo in federal courts, and holding those convicted in civilian courts in prisons in the US.

On Sunday, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] announced [JURIST report] that officials are conducting reviews to determine which detainees may face trials in military or civilian courts in the US. In October, Obama signed [JURIST report] the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010 [HR 2892 materials] into law, which allows for Guantanamo Bay detainees to be transferred to the US for prosecution. Congress also passed a bill last month amending [JURIST report] the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [text, PDF] to provide suspected terrorists with greater due process rights in military tribunals. The legislation comes after Holder announced that the Obama administration may miss its January deadline for closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, echoing prior statements [JURIST reports] by top administration officials.


 

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