Obama's Pledge to Close Gitmo — More Smoke and Mirrors?

By:  Raven Clabough
05/06/2013
       
Obama's Pledge to Close Gitmo — More Smoke and Mirrors?

Though President Obama renewed his pledge to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, many recognize this as nothing more than an attempt to assuage voters.

Though President Obama renewed his pledge to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay last week, many recognize this as his latest attempt to pretend to have a different foreign policy from his predecessor. Despite the president’s strong claims against Guantanamo Bay, there appears to be no indication that the Guantanamo Bay hunger strikers — a majority of those imprisoned at Guantanamo — are any closer to freedom, even the ones already formally cleared for release. Any discussions of closing the facility seem to be nothing more than attempts to assuage voters who are starting to ask questions about campaign promises that have yet to be fulfilled.

On April 30, President Obama announced that Camp Delta is no longer ensuring America’s safety and has in fact become counterproductive in that extremists are pointing to it as a reason to unite and recruit.

President Obama told reporters that the detention center is “contrary to who we are,” and that it is a “lingering problem.” “It is inefficient, it hurts us in terms of our international standing, it lessens co-operation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts, it is a recruitment tool for extremists, it needs to be closed,” said Obama. “I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe.”

The president pointed to detention centers in Iraq and Afghanistan, most notably Abu Ghraib and the Bagram prison, that were either closed or handed over to local authorities as examples that the United States should be following.

But until significant changes are made to the Obama administration’s policies impacting Guantanamo Bay, there is no evidence that the facility will be closed. As observed by PBS:

The administration put a freeze on any transfers after the 2009 attempt by a Nigerian man to bring down a US airliner. The man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is believed to have been inspired by a Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda, and many of those cleared for release are from Yemen. The administration was concerned about returning them to a country besieged by terrorists.”

The White House remains commited to its “moratorium” on releasing Yemeni prisoners back to Yemen.

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