National Guard via flickrPresident Barack Obama said today that “Guantanamo prison is not necessary to keep America safe” and that he would revisit Congress to see about its closing during a highly publicized press conference today.
“The notion that we’re going to keep over 100 individuals in a no-man’s land in perpetuity … is contrary to who we are,” said Obama.
Obama has said his previous efforts to close the base were stymied in Congress. Less well-known is that Congress blocked Obama’s efforts to close Gitmo because his intent was to simply transfer detainees to or re-establish a detention centre on U.S. soil.
Though that Obama said directly he intends to revisit the issue with congress seems to have given many activists and human rights advocates a bit of hope.
“All of us should reflect on why exactly that we’re doing this,” said Obama. “Why are we doing this?”
“We’ve got to close Guantanamo,” he said. “The idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals that have not been tried — that needs to stop.”
The situation isn’t simple, however. There’s also a bit of a legal snafu associated with releasing detainees. — some countries of origin will not allow them to come back, and letting them settle in the U.S. would prove very controversial.
Furthermore, one recent poll on the matter shows that most Americans are for the continued existence of Gitmo in all its capacities — arguments about indefinite detention notwithstanding.
Presently, there are approximately 160 detainees at Gitmo right now, 86 have been cleared for release, and the amount on hunger strike has surpassed 100.
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