New York: President Barack Obama may not
be able to fulfill his promise of closing down infamous
Guantanamo Bay by the end of his term because of political
opposition and "inertia" on part of the administration, a
media report said today.
The initial date for shutting down the detention
facility was 2010 but there has been considerable resistance
to the proposal that the prisoners be shifted to a prison in
Illinois, according to the New York Times.
"There is a lot of inertia against closing the prison,
and the administration is not putting a lot of energy behind
their position that I can see," said Senator Carl Levin, the
Levin said that "the odds are that it will still be
open" by the next presidential inauguration.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican
who also supports shutting it, said the effort is "on life
support and it's unlikely to close any time soon."
Senior officials told NYT that the Obama
administration had done what it could and even identified the
Illinois prison but Congress had failed to put these
suggestions into motion.
"The president can't just wave a magic wand to say
that Gitmo will be closed," said a senior administration
official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But Levin noted that Obama and his team were also not
trying hard enough.
"They are not really putting their shoulder to the
wheel on this issue," he said.
"It's pretty dormant in terms of their public
positions." A March 2010 poll, showed that 60 per cent of
Americans wanted it to stay open. The report noted that people in the US had become wary and anxious after a string of failed terror attacks from an
attempt to blow up a Detroit bound plane on Christmas Day to
the Times Square car bomb fiasco in May.
Also a recent Pentagon study, obtained by the
newspaper, shows taxpayers spent more than USD 2 billion
between 2002 and 2009 on the prison.
Administration officials believe taxpayers would save
about USD 180 million a year in operating costs if Guant?namo
detainees were held at Thomson.
On the other hand, criticism against the detention
centre had been a little muted since a few changes for the
better had been incorporated like cruel interrogation
techniques and more safeguards have been granted to the
defendants by the military commissions.
First Published: Saturday, June 26, 2010, 15:07