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Just 'Too Difficult': Obama Admits Defeat on Major '08 Campaign Promise

Obama will not use executive order to finally shutter notorious offshore prison, anonymous source says

"It is hard to believe that [...] Gitmo remains very much open for business," a human rights lawyer lamented earlier this year. (Photo: Reuters)

An anonymous source close to President Barack Obama revealed that he does not plan to issue an executive order to shutter the notorious detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, more than eight years after he first campaigned on a promise to close the military prison, Reuters reported Monday.

"It was just deemed too difficult to get through all of the hurdles that they would need to get through, and the level of support they were likely to receive on it was thought to be too low to generate such controversy, particularly at a sensitive [time] in an election cycle," the source said.

"With executive action off the table, then, Mr. Obama would have to get full Congressional approval to close the prison," the Independent noted.

"Putting the decision in the Congress' hands would lessen the chances of closure," the newspaper continued. "Republicans in Congress oppose the motion to bring the remaining 80 prisoners to maximum security prisons in the U.S.—while also opposing the transfer of prisoners to prisons in other countries, citing concerns of releasing prisoners to conduct militant extremist activity."


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Obama's most recent effort to close the prison by simply relocating the detainees to U.S.-based prisons was dismissed by human rights activists as "no viable solution" to unconstitutional, indefinite detentions, as Common Dreams reported in February. The president's proposal languished in Congress.

Rights advocates have repeatedly criticized the president for failing to shut the prison and end indefinite detentions.

Indeed, earlier this year, an attorney with UK-based human rights group Reprieve said, "I remember 22 January 2009 very clearly—we were so hopeful that finally the nightmare would be over and my clients—and all those other men held without charge or trial at Guantánamo—would be able to go home. It is hard to believe that, seven years later [...] Gitmo remains very much open for business."

And so as the curtain closes on Obama's presidency, it appears that despite repeated pleas from human rights groups and detainees' family members, not to mention from Cuban president Raúl Castro, one of the president's most celebrated campaign promises from 2008 will remain unfulfilled.

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