A collection of newsworthy information as reported from newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Congress Blocks Guantanamo Bay Closing

Obama promised to close the detention center within a year of taking office, after taking office, not during the campaign.  Public displeasure with the decision to close the prison grew. Fifty percent of those surveyed said they disapproved of closing the facility.  After the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound jet on Christmas Day, conservatives renewed calls for Obama to abandon his plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
Obama really wants to close the center. But Congress really doesn't.  There are still 172 people being held at Guantanamo.  Congress has pretty well tied the administration's hands, prohibiting prosecution in U.S. federal courts and making it extremely difficult to transfer them to other countries.
The law authorizing defense spending for 2011 members of Congress attached several stipulations about Guantanamo. The law says no funds can be used to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the United States, and no funds can be used to transfer detainees to the custody of foreign countries, unless specific conditions are met about how the prisoners will be held.  Obama didn't like those provisions and issued a statement deploring them.  Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a released statement.  "Unfortunately, some in Congress have unwisely sought to undermine this process by imposing restrictions that challenge the Executive Branch’s ability to bring to justice terrorists who seek to do Americans harm. We oppose those restrictions and will continue to seek their repeal."
On March 7, 2011, President Barack Obama signed an executive order making a number of changes to policies regarding those detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a reversal of his previous policy, the order resumes military trials for Gitmo detainees. It also establishes a "periodic review" process for long-held Guantanamo detainees who have not been charged, convicted or designated for transfer, "but must continue to be detained because they 'in effect, remain at war with the United States." "While appearing to be a step in the right direction, providing more process to Guantanamo detainees is just window dressing for the reality that today’s executive order institutionalizes indefinite detention, which is unlawful, unwise and un-American," Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union said in a released statement.   "The detention of Guantanamo detainees for nine years without charge or trial is a stain on America’s reputation that should be ended immediately, and not given a stamp of approval."

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