- Al Sharpton, Trayvon Martin’s parents rally against Fla. ‘stand your ground’ law
- Hillary Clinton campaign got illicit funds from D.C. scandal figure
- Obama administration backs off plan to cut prescription-drug program
- Tickets linked to stolen passports purchased by Iranian middleman
- More than 3,500 police planned for Boston Marathon
- Ottawa day care suspends 2-year-old for ‘outside’ cheese sandwich
- Liam Neeson tells NYC mayor to ‘man up’ in horse carriage fight
- Real-life Dr. Doolittle to reveal how to talk to animals
- Climate change could bring back smallpox, researchers say
- Shoe-bomb witness to speak from London at N.Y. trial
No getting out of Gitmo: U.S. can’t release detainees to state sponsors of terrorism
For a president eager to close the site entirely, Noor Uthman Mohammad should be one of the easier Guantanamo Bay detainee cases to clear.
Captured in Pakistan in 2002 and accused of helping run an al Qaeda training camp, Noor, as he is referred to in court documents, pleaded guilty in 2011 to charges that he supported terrorism. He is scheduled to complete his 34-month sentence next winter.
But Noor is Sudanese, and the federal government officially lists Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism. Under the latest defense policy law, President Obama and other U.S. authorities cannot repatriate any of the detainees to a country on that list.
Noor’s case is part of the complex political and legal puzzle that Mr. Obama must solve as he looks to provide some sort of closure for the 166 detainees at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where many are taking part in a hunger strike to protest their detentions.
Speaking at the National Defense University last week, Mr. Obama said the prison has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law. The president renewed his pledge — memorialized in an executive order he signed just days after taking office in 2009 — to close the prison.
“Given my administration’s relentless pursuit of al Qaeda’s leadership, there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should have never been opened,” the president said.
He said he will name a senior envoy to expedite transfers of detainees to other sites and countries and will lift his own moratorium on sending detainees back to Yemen.
Some of the 166 inmates at Guantanamo are deemed too dangerous to release, but 86 have been approved for transfer. Of those, 56 are from Yemen.
Under the defense policy law, Mr. Obama cannot transfer any of the detainees to the U.S. and can transfer them to other countries only if his administration certifies that they are not likely to return to the battlefield.
Republicans who have helped block all efforts to shutter Guantanamo said they don’t see how Mr. Obama can certify Yemen as stable enough to take the detainees.
“Well, guess what, between December 2009 and today, has Yemen shown any indication that they’re more capable of looking after those individuals? Absolutely not,” said Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the ranking Republican on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “If we were to transfer those individuals to Yemen, we’d be just like turning them loose.”
“The biggest hurdle Obama faces is whether he has the political will to follow through with his promises,” she said. “If he’s truly going to move forward, he should continue to make clear to Congress and the public that closing Guantanamo is in the U.S. national security interest. I think if Obama takes concrete steps — such as transferring detainees to their home countries and starting up the administrative review process he designed — members of Congress will support his efforts. But first they, and the general public, need to see that he is serious.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- Hard-fought congressional election in Florida is seen as a bellwether
- Former Iowa GOP chief takes post with Rand Paul PAC
- CPAC 2014: Straw poll signals Paul-Cruz showdown for conservative voters
- CPAC 2014: Poll shows GOP discontent, Congress frustration
- Palin dings Obama, calls for conservative reinforcements in Washington
Latest Blog Entries
- Most New Jersey voters say Gov. Chris Christie lied
- Political handicapper: GOP poised to win House seats in 2014
- Axelrod: Christie can recover from the bridge scandal
- ACLJ: Appointment of Obama supporter to lead IRS probe 'troubling'
- Americans support minimum wage increase, extending jobless benefits: poll
TWT Video Picks
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
- FCC targets black conservative in TV station fight
- Hillary Clinton campaign received funds from Jeffrey Thompson
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- Unanimous Senate passes bill on military sex assault to give victims more say in prosecution
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS after months of talks
- Liam Neeson tells NYC mayor to 'man up' in horse carriage fight
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again