On the seventh anniversary of the opening of the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of detainees have been held for years without trial or even being charged with a crime, President-elect Barack Obama reiterated his promise to close the facility, although he could not promise it would be done quickly.
Obama, who has been receiving daily national security briefings since his election in November, acknowledged that his campaign pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay will be more of a challenge than he anticipated. Many of those held at the military site are suspected terrorists or potential witnesses in cases against them.
“It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize – and we are going to get it done – but part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication,” he said.
About 250 detainees are still held there.
Sunday marked the seventh anniversary of the first prisoners arriving at Guantanamo, which was set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in order to house suspected terrorists without putting them under the auspices of the American judicial system.
But the Bush administration’s attempt to repeal detainees’ habeus corpus rights have been knocked down by the Supreme Court, and the taint of torture of some detainees has compromised the military tribunals which the administration has tried to push forth.
In the interview recorded Saturday and broadcast today on ABC’s “This Week,” Obama told host George Stephanopoulos, that “It is possible for us to keep the American people safe while still adhering to our core values and ideals, and that’s what I intend to carry forward in my administration.”