Monday, September 28, 2009

Obama Aides: White House Unlikely to Close Gitmo By January Deadline

"President Obama is unlikely to close the much-maligned detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in time to meet the self-imposed deadline of January, as his administration runs into daunting legal and logistical hurdles in moving the more than 220 detainees still being held there.

The difficulties in completing the lengthy review of detainee files and resolving other thorny questions mean the president's promised January deadline may slip, senior administration officials acknowledged for the first time Friday to FOX News.

The White House hopes to regain momentum -- Obama's aides have stepped up their work toward closure and the president remains as committed to closing the facility as he was when, as one of his first acts in office, he pledged to shut it down, officials told FOX News.

The White House in recent months has also shuffled its staffing for who will oversee the closure of the facility. White House Counsel Greg Craig has been replaced by senior advisers Pete Rouse, Tom Donilon and John Brennan.

But legislative difficulties and legal snares have made it inevitable that the facility will remain open for some inmates after the deadline passes.

The U.S. military prison in Cuba was created by former President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as a landing spot for suspected Al Qaeda, Taliban and foreign fighters captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. But it has since become a lightning rod of anti-U.S. criticism around the globe. There are approximately 225 detainees still being held at the prison.

Obama promised soon after taking office -- and many times since -- that he would close the prison, arguing that doing so would be a crucial step in restoring America's image in the world and creating a more effective anti-terror approach.

But eight months after Obama's initial pledge -- and with only four months to go before the January deadline -- a number of difficult issues remain unresolved. They include establishing a new set of rules for military trials, finding a location for a new prison to house detainees and finding host countries for those who can be released."

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