WASHINGTON — The White House insisted Monday that President Barack Obama was determined to close Guantanamo Bay, despite failing to do so by the war on terror camp’s 10th anniversary this week.
Obama declared within a few hours of taking office in January 2009 that he would shutter the camp within a year, saying it was used as a recruiting tool for terrorists, and detrimental to US national security.
But in the face of deep opposition in Congress to moving inmates to the US mainland and over the idea of holding civil trials for key Al-Qaeda suspects, Obama has failed to live up to his vow.
“The commitment that the president has to closing Guantanamo Bay is as firm today as it was during the (2008) campaign,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
“We are all are aware of the obstacles to getting that done as quickly as the president wanted to get it done … but the president’s commitment hasn’t changed at all.”
Carney said that Obama, top national security officials and senior members of the military still believed that closing Guantanamo was in US interests.
“We will continue to abide by that commitment and work towards its fulfillment,” he said.
Given staunch opposition to closing the camp at the US base in southeastern Cuba, and pressures of election year politics, there does not appear to be a viable route to closing Guantanamo in the near future.
Several key planners of the September 11 attacks in 2001 are among 171 prisoners still languishing at the camp and are awaiting military tribunals there.
The US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba accepted its first prisoners from the newly drawn battlefields of the global war on terror on January 11, 2002.