April 30, 2013
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At a press conference Tuesday morning President Obama vowed to restart efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. "I am going to go back at this," said the President. "I am going to re-engage with Congress that this is not in the best interest of the American people."
"The idea that we would detain forever a group of individuals that have not been tried, that is contrary to who we are, that is contrary to our interests and it has to stop," said the President.
Shutting down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay was one of Obama's signature promises at the start of his Presidency. Despite pledging to close the prison within the year, Obama largely abandoned efforts to end indefinite detention in Guantanamo in his first term. In January, the administration reassigned the special envoy charged with closing the prison and did not replace him.
87 detainees have been cleared for release, but they remain locked up. Critics say the only reason they're still imprisoned is because it's seen as politically risky to repatriate them to countries like Yemen.
An Amnesty International dispatch explains the untenable position of the detainees:
Then, in 2010, his administration announced that it had decided that four dozen of the Guantánamo detainees could neither be prosecuted nor released, but should remain in indefinite military detention without charge or criminal trial. The administration also imposed a moratorium on repatriation of Yemeni detainees. and said that 30 such detainees would be held in 'conditional' detention based on 'current security conditions in Yemen'. This moratorium is still in place.
A recent hunger strike has refocused attention on the prison. Military officials say that 100 prisoners are now refusing food, while lawyers claim the number is closer to 130. Prison officials have responded with forced feedings. In September, Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, a Yemeni national who had been cleared for release but remained at the prison, allegedly killed himself.