News / USA

Obama Renews Pledge to Close Guantanamo Prison

President Barack Obama talks about national security, May 23, 2013, at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington.
President Barack Obama talks about national security, May 23, 2013, at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington.
Kent Klein
President Barack Obama pledged Thursday to renew his attempts to close the controversial U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The president announced his plan in an hourlong, wide-ranging speech on U.S. counterterrorism policy.

Obama first promised to close Guantanamo when he ran for president in 2008.  On his third day in office in 2009, he signed an order to close the facility within the year.

Later that year, the U.S. Senate blocked the funding needed to transfer or release prisoners from the camp.  And in 2011, the president signed a defense spending bill which restricted the transfer of Guantanamo prisoners to the mainland or other countries, forcing the facility to remain open.

In Thursday’s comprehensive address, Obama said his administration is committed to prosecuting alleged terrorists whenever possible. He called the detention of terror suspects without charge at Guantanamo “a glaring exception” which is damaging America’s global image.

“The original premise for opening GTMO - that detainees would not be able to challenge their detention - was found unconstitutional five years ago.  In the meantime, GTMO has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law.  Our allies will not cooperate with us if they think a terrorist will end up at GTMO,” Obama said.

The president called on Congress to lift the restrictions it placed on transferring detainees from Guantanamo to other countries or imprisoning them in the United States.  

Obama asked the Defense Department to designate a location in the U.S. where military commissions could be held.  The president also said he is appointing a senior envoy to the State and Defense Departments who will work to transfer detainees to other countries.

The president said he would lift the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen, to allow each case to be reviewed individually.  And he committed to trying terror suspects in U.S. civilian and military courts, where appropriate.

There are 166 prisoners still at Guantanamo.  Eighty-six have been approved for transfer as long as security restrictions are met.  More than 100 of the prisoners are on a hunger strike to protest their detention, and about 30 are being force-fed.

Toward the end of the speech, when he addressed the Guantanamo issue, Obama was interrupted repeatedly by an anti-war heckler.  The president acknowledged her as he made his case for closing the camp.  

“Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike.  I am willing to cut the young lady who interrupted me some slack, because it is worth being passionate about.  Is this who we are?,” Obama said.

At Human Rights Watch, counterterrorism adviser Laura Pitter says she believes the hunger strikers forced U.S. officials to revisit the Guantanamo issue.

“Well, the hunger strike has really put the issue of closing Guantanamo back on the political agenda.  It is unfortunate that the detainees had to resort to such drastic measures and desperate measures in order to get the attention of the administration and Congress again,” Pitter said.

President Obama has been criticized at home and around the world for failing to close Guantanamo.  He also has faced domestic opposition for proposing the detention of terror suspects on U.S. soil.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: williambtm from: Australia
May 24, 2013 9:09 AM
Tis really the simplest matter to close down Guantanamo, first ignore the objectors, (maybe 3% of the US of A population) then just announce close this place down in 1 weeks time!

How hard is it, really?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid