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Obama: Guantanamo 'is not in the best interest of the American people'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 3rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The foreboding prison of Guantanamo, set aside specifically for suspected terrorists, according to U.S. President Barack Obama now says "needs to be closed." Furthermore, the president declares that "I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe . It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens co-operation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts." These remarks are intriguing, coming so soon after the terrorist bombings at the Boston Marathon. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At least 100 Guantanamo detainees are now participating in a three-month-old hunger strike. The Navy has sent some 40 additional medical personnel there to deal with the spreading strike.

Five of the prisoners in the hunger strike have since been hospitalized, and 21 are reportedly being force-fed in a procedure which the American Medical Association has denounced as a violation of the profession's "core ethical values."  Obama says that he supported these measures. "I don't want these individuals to die," he said.
 
In the meantime, the president reiterated his denunciations of the facility and blamed Congress for preventing its closure.

Obama has asked his staff "to review everything that's currently being done in Guantanamo, everything that we can do administratively," while speaking at a White House news conference. The president plans to "re-engage with Congress to make the case that this is not something that's in the best interest of the American people. And it's not sustainable."

Attorneys for detainees and human rights groups stress that Obama could take a series of steps without Congress to improve the situation, notably by repatriating more than half of the remaining 166 detainees.

"Congress is certainly responsible for imposing unprecedented restrictions on detainee transfers, but President Obama still has the power to transfer men right now," the Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement.

"He should use the certification/waiver process created by Congress to transfer detainees, starting with the 86 men who have been cleared for release," the New York-based group said.

The secretary of defense, under a law that went into effect last year, may order detainees returned to their homelands or to third countries -- if he certifies on a case-by-case basis that they will pose no future threat to US national security.

Eighty-six prisoners, including 56 Yemenis, have been cleared for release by Pentagon review boards to date, but the administration has not yet certified them, apparently due to fears that that if any of them are subsequently implicated in anti-U.S. terrorist activity, the political backlash could be too costly.

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