KONFRONTASI - Outgoing US President Barack Obama will not be able to close the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before the end of his second term in office, the White House has admitted.
“At this point, I don’t anticipate that we will succeed in that goal of closing the prison, but it’s not for a lack of trying,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his final media briefing on Tuesday.
Obama, who has just two full days left in his presidency, has failed to keep his 2008 presidential campaign promise to close the notorious prison.
“The only reason it didn’t happen is because of the politics that members of Congress of both parties, frankly, played with this issue,” Earnest said.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest leaves following the last daily press briefing of the Obama administration at the White House in Washington, DC, January 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Calling the facility a “waste of money,” the first African-American president has said that Guantanamo has hurt the US image abroad.
The US Senate has confirmed that prisoners were regularly tortured at the notorious facility, which was set up by former US president George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks to hold so-called terror suspects.
Obama’s proposals to shift the inmates to prison facilities on US soil have been blocked by Republican lawmakers, who argue that the transfer would jeopardize the national security.
Republicans are also critical of the president’s efforts to transfer detainees to countries that are willing to resettle them under close supervision.
In this March 30, 2010 file photo reviewed by US military officials, a member of the US military mans the guard post before sunrise at Camp Delta, part of the US Detention Center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Photo by AFP)
The last transfer took place over the past few days, when 10 inmates were sent to Oman.
The sultanate confirmed the transfer on Monday morning, noting that the inmates were on a “temporary” stay on Obama’s request.
The development came days after the Pentagon had cleared 19 of the remaining 55 prisoners at the facility for release before President-elect Trump’s inauguration on January 20.
Trump has indicated that he would keep the prison open and “load it up with some bad dudes.”[ptv]