Wire: Obama to Miss His Own Guantanamo Closing Deadline
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, July 21, 2009 -- Newswire services Tuesday reported that President Obama on Monday extended by six months a task force charged with determining how terrorism suspects should be interrogated, held in custody or handed over to other countries, putting in jeopardy his promise to close the military detention facility at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by January.
Although officials claimed the deadline still would be met, a task force studying the issue was expected to deliver its recommendations by Jan. 22 -- exactly one year after Obama issued his executive order to close the prison within a year, The Los Angeles Times said.
The move came on the day that marked the first six-months of Obama's administration, the same day the president pushed back the release of a congressionally mandated report on the nation's economic conditions, and the White House began to extend a self-imposed deadline for overhauling the nation's health care system.
The Washington Times reported that pushing back the deadline on how to handle 229 Gitmo detainees, among them five suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks, including accused mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed illustrates just how complicated it is to solve the campaign issue that Obama this month called "one of the biggest challenges of my administration."
Six months after Mr. Obama signed the closure order, fewer than 20 of about 245 inmates have been transferred out of the U.S. military base in Cuba, The Washington Times said.
The Washington Times noted the following details:
The White House put a positive spin on the delay, although none of the senior administration officials who briefed reporters Monday night agreed to be named.Late Monday, with only a select group of reporters invited, the White House deployed senior administration officials to sell the new delay. "We are over halfway through reviewing the detainees that are at Guantanamo," an official said, The Washington Times reported.
The goal in six months is to move through the considerations, file by file, of each of the detainees at Guantanamo, move them to disposition and close the facility, one official said.
The officials used that word "goal" several times, seeming to redefine the firm timetable set by the president to close the facility by Jan. 22. "Well, that is our goal; that's what we're working towards, is meeting the date set forth," one official said.
Senior officials said the administration is no closer to determining what to do with detainees that cannot be charged or released. "There, there may be a category of detainees who for a number of reasons can't be prosecuted, but whom we believe that violate the laws of war and pose a threat to the United States. And decisions with respect to any individual detainee with respect to that kind of longer-term detention [have] not been made at this point," one official said.
(Report from newswire sources.)
Source: Gitmo review delayed 6 months
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