Reliable Security Information

Political Battles Over Guantanamo

During his first week in office, President Barack Obama signed an executive order signaling his intent to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay by January 2010, and another order that called for a top-to-bottom review of U.S. detention policies. The moves brought praise from civil libertarians and some legal experts but political opposition is now growing.

This week, lawmakers in the president's own party voted not to release $80 million (Reuters) requested for the closure of Guantanamo. Senate Democrats said they pulled the money because there is no plan to close the camp, and some lawmakers expressed concern that detainees could be transferred to facilities on U.S. soil. "The feeling was at this point we were defending the unknown," said Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), the chamber's No. 2 Democrat. "We were being asked to defend a plan that hasn't been announced."

To try to close the gap, Obama delivered a speech on national security laying out in general terms his plan to close Guantanamo, and his argument for balancing transparency with national security. "The prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security," he said. "It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries. By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it."Obama reached out to Congress, calling for lawmakers to help him "develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution." Analysts said Obama's vow to work with Congress to develop a long-term detention plan is new, but overall, Obama was short on details and failed to take on the hard issues. Close...

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