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Obama doesn't need Congress to close Guantanamo -- so what's keeping him?

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Reprinted from The Guardian

It's increasingly looking like Obama's vow to end one of the Bush administration's most damaging legacies will actually live on as his own

From Guantanamo Prison
Guantanamo Prison
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Just as the Obama administration is finally about to release its long awaited plan to "close" the scourge on our country known as the Guantanamo detention facility this week, Congress has cowardly voted to bar the transfer of any of its inmates to the United States. But don't just blame Congress for this impasse -- the Obama administration is just as guilty for keeping one of the world's most effective terrorist recruiting tools open more than six years after vowing to close it.

It's hard to list all of the incidents of censorship and violations of constitutional rights that have taken place under the Obama administration in regards to Guantanamo detainees, along with the many opportunities the White House has had to facilitate the closing of the prison but has declined.

To this day, more than 50 detainees have been cleared for release for years because they pose no danger, yet have remained locked away in cages in some sort of legal limbo. Two successive Pentagon chiefs have promised to move quickly on Gitmo, only for both of them to then drag their feet incessantly.

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The release of the Obama administration's latest plan to "close" Guantanamo is expected any day now. I say "close" because while the White House wants to shut the physical facility, much of what makes Guantanamo so abhorrent -- like indefinite detention -- will almost certainly remain.

The administration claims they cannot charge and hold a trial for dozens of detainees (in many cases, because torture will likely taint any evidence), but they also say they consider them "too dangerous" to release from US custody. So the plan appears to be to let them rot in jail forever -- in clear violation of the fifth amendment -- in a supermax prison somewhere inside the United States.

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Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a writer, activist, and lawyer who specializes in free speech and government transparency issues. He has contributed to  The (more...)

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