President Barack Obama has once again pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. It was a campaign promise he made in the 2008 campaign, and also one he repeated during his re-election bid last year.
It’s a campaign promise, however, that the president has not made much progress in keeping. Members of Congress have expressed strong objections to closing the facility located on a U.S. Naval base, which is often referred to as Gitmo. Republicans, in particular, have blocked attempts to close the prison and move inmates to the mainland for trial and incarceration.
And even though Obama signed an executive order to close the prison during his first week in office in 2009, Congress has used its budgetary power to thwart that effort.
“Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe,” Obama said earlier this month. “It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed.”
The president also said the idea that prisoners could be kept indefinitely at Guantanamo without trial is “contrary to who we are ... and it needs to stop.”
Recently, 100 of the 166 prisoners held at Guantanamo went on a hunger strike to protest their status. Obama has ordered a review of his administrative options.
The Associated Press has reported that the White House has acknowledged the process to review prisoner cases for possible release has not been implemented quickly enough and says the president is considering reappointing a senior official at the State Department to focus on transfers out of the prison.
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