The Great Debate UK

Doubts linger over Obama’s Guantanamo intentions


clare_algar-Clare Algar is executive director of Reprieve. The opinions expressed are her own.-

Disappointed, but not surprised, was my first response to hearing President Barack Obama’s announcement on Wednesday that he would not make the January 22 deadline for closing the prison in Guantanamo Bay.

During attorney visits over the past few weeks, Reprieve’s clients in Guantanamo have expressed their doubts regarding whether President Obama can live up to his promise to close the prison within a year of assuming office. ‘What is he going to do,’ one man asked, “put 200 people on a plane on the 22nd?”

And it is true – the maths doesn’t work.  Around 245 prisoners were being held in Guantánamo when Obama was inaugurated in January of this year and only around 30 men have left since then. If releases continue at this snail’s pace, the prison won’t close until at least 2017.