Posts Tagged ‘Gitmo’

Pentagon chief says «tough» to meet Gitmo deadline.


By Deborah Zabarenko
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged in an interview broadcast on Sunday that it would be difficult to meet the Obama administration’s January 22 deadline for closing the Guantanamo detention camp.
Asked directly whether that deadline would be met, Gates told ABC’s «This Week» program, «It’s going to be tough.»
Recent reports have suggested the administration may not meet the deadline because of legal, political and diplomatic issues involving the detainees at the controversial prison at a U.S. naval base in Cuba.
There are still some 223 detainees at the facility set up by the Bush administration in 2002 to hold foreign terrorism suspects captured after U.S.-led forces invaded Afghanistan.
Some detainees are expected to be transferred abroad while others could face charges in U.S. military tribunals or in American courtrooms. The Justice Department said on Saturday three detainees had been sent to Ireland and Yemen.
Gates said, «I actually was one of those who said we should (set a deadline) because I know enough from being around this town that if you don’t put a deadline on something, you’ll never move the bureaucracy.
«But I also said and then if we find we can’t get it done by that time but we have a good plan, then you’re in a position to say it’s going to take us a little longer but we are moving in the direction of implementing the policy that the president set,» he said.
An administration official said on Saturday the White House was close to selecting a location on U.S. soil to house some detainees.
«We are doing everything we can to close it by the (January) date,» the official said, adding, «We are in the final stages of locating a secure facility in the U.S. where detainees can be held.
Democrats have mostly backed closing Guantanamo, pointing to international criticism of the detention camp and concerns the prison provides a rallying cry to groups like al Qaeda.
Most Republicans have criticized Obama for wanting to close the camp since it is already set up for detention and trials.
But Senator John McCain, Obama’s Republican opponent in the 2008 presidential election, disagreed.
«We should continue to work toward the closure of Guantanamo Bay because of the image it has in the world of brutality,» he told ABC. «It harms our image very badly.»
(Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, Ross Colvin and Susan Heavey; Editing by Peter Cooney and Doina Chiacu)