Washington: President Barack Obama remains committed to the closure of the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention centre, the White House said on Thursday, saying that it is a recruiting tool for terror outfits like al Qaeda.
"The President remains committed to the goal of closing Guantanamo Bay, because we know from talking to our commanders in the field and we know from intelligence that we`ve gathered that this is a source of...this is a recruiting tool that al Qaeda is and continues to actively use in trying to find people like Mr Ghailani and others who seek to do our country harm," the White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, said.
"The President remains committed to closing Guantanamo Bay to ensure that that is no longer the recruiting poster that it is right now for al Qaeda," he told reporters in an off camera briefing.
At the same time, he acknowledged that he has not been able to meet the deadline of closing Guantanamo within one year of coming to the office, mainly because of the difficulties in it.
"We`re going to have to continue to work through and with Congress on these issues. I`m not going to stand up here and say any of it`s going to be easy. But the goal remains the same," Gibbs said.
The White House spokesman also defended the Obama administration`s policy to try Guantanamo detainees in civilian courts instead of military commission.
"In the case of Mr Ghailani, there was a guilty verdict, a minimum sentence of 20 years that incapacitated somebody that has committed a terrorist act and because of that incapacitation is not going to threaten American lives," Gibbs said, referring to a verdict issued by a US in New York on Wednesday.
In the verdict, terror suspect Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a 36-year-old Tanzanian, who was once held at Guantanamo, and had been accused of conspiring in the al Qaeda bomb attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, was convicted on only one of more than 280 terrorism-related counts.
"Yesterday`s (Wednesday) acquittal in a federal court of accused terrorist Ahmed Ghailani on all but one of 285 charges of conspiracy and murder is all the proof we need that the administration`s approach to prosecuting terrorists has been deeply misguided and indeed potentially harmful as a matter of national security," said Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader.