Obama's detainees

Gitmo Survives


On January 22, 2009, two days after his inauguration, President Barack Obama signed an executive order requiring that the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be closed within a year. He seemed to be swiftly delivering on a campaign promise to shut down the facility, an international symbol of the legal limbo to which the Bush administration consigned suspected terrorists and other "enemy combatants." But January 22, 2010, came and went, and Guantanamo is still open for business.

Obama attributed the delay to congressional resistance and the difficulty of deciding what to do with the remaining 200 or so detainees. The New York Times reports that "the Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees…because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release." Obtaining and preparing an American site for these detainees is expected to take another year or two at least. The task force said about 40 other detainees should be prosecuted in federal court or by military tribunals, and Obama has said he reserves the right to keep them locked up even if they are acquitted.

The remaining detainees are supposed to be repatriated or transferred to other countries, but it's not clear when that might happen. About 30 of the men are from Yemen, and the Obama administration stopped sending detainees back to that country after the attempted Christmas airplane bombing, a plot that originated there.