Obama’s first-term promise to close Gitmo prison still unfulfilled

January 21, 2013

It was one of then-Candidate Barack Obama’s marquee campaign promises: Close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, which would erase a terrorist recruiting tool and a black spot on America’s human rights record.

Hours after that first inauguration, Mr. Obama halted all war trials at the detention facility for suspected terrorists, and then two days later, on Jan. 22, he signed an executive order committing to close the prison down entirely.

But as he again took the oath of office Sunday in a private ceremony, 166 detainees remain at the prison — officially named Camp Delta — and it remains one of the most striking emblems of a promise Mr. Obama has been unable to keep, and a reminder that Congress can still thwart him when it wants to.

It’s not for lack of a public commitment that the camp hasn’t closed. Mr. Obama repeatedly says he still wants to see it shut down, and he even has threatened to veto bills that curtail his authority to do so.

Still, he has yet to put muscle behind those threats, and earlier this month he signed the latest defense policy bill, which extends a ban on transferring detainees to the U.S. and makes it tougher to send them to their home countries. Human rights groups said that signature makes it unlikely he’ll be able to close the prison before his second term is over.

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