Tales from the Trail

Obama talks Guantanamo with 9/11 and USS Cole families

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.

First Draft: Obama focuses on foreign affairs

GUANTANAMO/OBAMA

President Barack Obama is expected to focus on foreign policy and issue an order to close Guantanamo prison within a year.

But the state of the economy remains a top concern with Wall Street poised to open lower after the government reported the number of workers filing for new jobless claims rose more than expected last week. House starts and permits fell to a record low.

Congress is busy pulling together a huge economic stimulus plans and House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer said the House was expected to vote next week on the $825 billion plan. Hoyer also said the White House would host a bipartisan meeting on the plan on Friday. Republicans had sought more input into the package.