Obama to close Gitmo —in two years?

We recently noted that the ACLU is calling for President-elect Barack Obama to close Guantánamo Bay prison camp his first day in office. Now the Pentagon says it is working on a plan to close the camp—but, based on a new Obama interview in Time magazine, the time frame being posed for the closure is two years. From Reuters, Dec. 18:

The Pentagon is working on a plan to shut the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that would be available to President-elect Barack Obama when he takes office on Jan. 20, a defense official said on Thursday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked his staff to come up with an assessment of what it would take to shutter the prison camp that has become a blemish on the international reputation of the United States.

“If this is one of the president-elect’s first orders of business, the secretary wants to be prepared to help him as soon as possible,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters.

“(Gates) has asked his team for a proposal on how to shut it down — what would be required specifically to close it, and move the detainees from that facility, while at the same time, of course, ensuring that we protect the American people from some dangerous characters.”

Obama has pledged to close the prison located at the U.S. naval station in southeastern Cuba, which has come to symbolize aggressive detention practices that opened the United States to allegations of torture.

There was no immediate word on how soon Obama might address the Guantanamo question. But the president-elect, who has repeatedly called its closure a top foreign policy priority, said in the current issue of Time magazine that he hoped to have the jail shut during the first two years of his term.

To Obama’s credit, the two-year time frame was actually posed by the interviewer in Time’s “Man of the Year” feature. Here’s the verbatim:

When voters look at your Administration two years from now, in the off-year election, how will they know whether you’re succeeding?
I think there are a couple of benchmarks we’ve set for ourselves during the course of this campaign. On [domestic] policy, have we helped this economy recover from what is the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression? Have we instituted financial regulations and rules of the road that assure this kind of crisis doesn’t occur again? Have we created jobs that pay well and allow families to support themselves? Have we made significant progress on reducing the cost of health care and expanding coverage? Have we begun what will probably be a decade-long project to shift America to a new energy economy? Have we begun what may be an even longer project of revitalizing our public-school systems so we can compete in the 21st century? That’s on the domestic front.

On foreign policy, have we closed down Guantánamo in a responsible way, put a clear end to torture and restored a balance between the demands of our security and our Constitution? Have we rebuilt alliances around the world effectively? Have I drawn down U.S. troops out of Iraq, and have we strengthened our approach in Afghanistan — not just militarily but also diplomatically and in terms of development? And have we been able to reinvigorate international institutions to deal with transnational threats, like climate change, that we can’t solve on our own?

See our last post on Guantánamo Bay.

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  1. Cheney: keep Gitmo open
    From the LA Times,

    Cheney was key in clearing CIA interrogation tactics
    Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday that he was directly involved in approving severe interrogation methods used by the CIA, and that the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should remain open indefinitely.

    Cheney’s remarks on Guantanamo appear to put him at odds with President Bush, who has expressed a desire to close the prison, although the decision is expected to be left to the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama.

    Cheney’s comments also mark the first time that he has acknowledged playing a central role in clearing the CIA’s use of an array of controversial interrogation tactics, including a simulated drowning method known as waterboarding.

    “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared,” Cheney said in an interview with ABC News.

    Asked whether he still believes it was appropriate to use the waterboarding method on terrorism suspects, Cheney said: “I do.”

    See our last post o the crimes of Dick Cheney.

    1. MCA Trial Starts on 19 JAN
      The motions and then the Military Commissions trial of Omar Khadr starts on 19 JAN 2009. Will the next administration let this case proceed or stop it during the second day of hearings?