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"Today’s revelations prove there is no line the Pentagon will not cross to frustrate the president’s efforts to close Guantánamo," said attorney Omar Farah. (Photo: AP)

"Today’s revelations prove there is no line the Pentagon will not cross to frustrate the president’s efforts to close Guantánamo," said attorney Omar Farah. (Photo: AP)

Pentagon Deliberately Thwarting Efforts to Close Guantanamo

Reuters exposes 'pattern' of obstructionism that has prevented or delayed the transfer of cleared detainees

Lauren McCauley

President Obama's repeated pledges to close the Guantánamo Bay detention center have been routinely and deliberately undermined by his own Department of Defense, according to a damning new investigation published on Monday.

Citing numerous administration officials, Reuters exposed a "pattern" of bureaucratic obstacles imposed by the U.S. Pentagon which have successfully thwarted efforts to transfer cleared detainees from the notorious offshore prison.

"Pentagon officials have refused to provide photographs, complete medical records and other basic documentation to foreign governments willing to take detainees, administration officials said," according to the Reuters excluive. "They have made it increasingly difficult for foreign delegations to visit Guantánamo, limited the time foreign officials can interview detainees and barred delegations from spending the night at Guantánamo."

Such delays, Reuters notes, "resulted in four Afghan detainees spending an additional four years in Guantanamo after being approved for transfer."

"In other cases," the reporting continues, "the transfers of six prisoners to Uruguay, five to Kazakhstan, one to Mauritania and one to Britain were delayed for months or years by Pentagon resistance or inaction, officials said."

In the case of longtime hunger-striking prisoner Tariq Ba Odah, Pentagon officials refused to hand over the cleared Yemeni's medical files to a foreign delegation, which had requested the files as part of their consideration to take in Ba Odah to their undisclosed country.

Now, 14 years after he was first detained in the prison and five years after being cleared for release, Ba Odah remains at Guantánamo.

Ba Odah's attorney, Omar Farah, issued a statement saying that if these maneuvers persist, "Guantánamo will surely outlast Mr. Ba Odah," who has been on a hunger strike for seven years, dropping to 74 pounds from 148.

"Today’s revelations prove there is no line the Pentagon will not cross to frustrate the president’s efforts to close Guantánamo, even potentially blowing up resettlement negotiations at their most sensitive juncture," Farah continued. "The only question is whether the White House is blind to or passively allowing the insubordination to continue."

Spokespeople for both the White House and Pentagon denied any "discord" over efforts to close the prison. However, Reuters notes that the "Bush administration faced no political opposition on transfers and was able to move 532 detainees out of Guantanamo over six years." During Obama's seven years in office, 131 detainees have been transferred while 107 still remain.

Earlier this month, Obama said he'd give Congress one last chance to approve legislation to help close the facility before resorting to an executive action.

"We will wait until Congress has said definitively 'no' to a well thought out plan with numbers attached to it before we say anything definitive about my executive authority here," Obama said during a press conference.


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