Obama talks Guantanamo with 9/11 and USS Cole families

February 7, 2009

USAWASHINGTON – President Barack Obama met with families of victims of the September 11 and USS Cole attacks to defend his decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

Obama told about 40 family members in an at-times emotional discussion on Friday that his goal was to keep the country safe.

The prison for terrorism suspects is widely seen as a stain on the United States’ human rights record. Obama took action in his first week in office, ordering an end to controversial trials by military tribunals there.

“He explained why he believes that closing Guantanamo will make our nation safer and help ensure that those who are guilty receive swift and certain justice within a legal framework that is durable, and that helps America fight terrorism more effectively around the world,” a White House statement said.

D. Hamilton Peterson, whose father and stepmother, Donald and Jean Peterson, died on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, said he opposed the prison’s closure but appreciated the president’s candor.

“I was impressed with his sincerity and his willingness to hear from people who are pro-Guantanamo,” he told Reuters by telephone. He said Obama kept an open mind about the issue.

What do you think? Is the president doing the right thing by seeking to close the prison? Will it have positive or negative consequences for U.S. national security?


Reuters photos by Joshua Roberts (parents of a USS Cole victim in Arlington National Cemetery) and Enrique Castro Mendivil (a protest in Lima, Peru against the Guantanamo prison)


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I think in the long run it will improve the image of USA policies and will loosen somehow the tension that has been building up between the muslim world and the western traditions and beliefs. The tension and the terrorism acts derived by it have had disastrous consequences all over the world. the hatred among nations, the economic disruption , the environment, are all causes of deep concern. Closing Guantanamo would be just one first step towards human understanding and consequently improve national security all over the world.

Posted by serena salomone | Report as abusive

Peace and love. That will solve the problem. I have heard that mantra before and it doesn’t work in a world full of people who want to kill us.Let’s not help them achieve their goal.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

Why US has not caught that brute yet?!

Posted by Wang Xu | Report as abusive

TC, aren’t you being just a little disingenuous? You’re sounding like Dick Cheney who thinks the only way is for Obama to keep torturing with abandon. If Cheney really believed that was the only way the US could stay safe from terrorists he should have had the guts to stand for election in 2008 like VPs normally do instead of cutting and running his mouth.

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive

No Jimbo. I am not talking about torture or Dick Cheney at all. I am talking about the peace and love of the democratic movement. It doesn’t work in a dangerous world.I am not giving a cryptic message as you are suggesting. If you would like to comment on how the peace and love movement worked well in the past, please comment on that rather than divert the subject to something that isn’t relevant.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

how do the peace and love merchants suggest israel can survive with out a retaliatory policy?,the only reason they are not being attacked by iran is because iran knows the jews will not lie down.there were efforts by several countries to try the “lets be friends” strategy before world war 2 but hitler drove over them,jimbo when you were bullied at school what did you do? ,run and tell the teacher?or did you let them take your dinner money.ask the x con,s if this “lets all be friends” policy works,in prison, same deal. how did the cold war end with russia,obamas policy would have failed, if he had tried to implemented,what is being advocated by the democrats.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive