Prior to becoming president, Mr. Obama promised to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, move detainees to the United States and shift cases to U.S. civilian federal courts. But those plans have met stiff resistance from many U.S. politicians, including from those in the president's own Democratic Party.
After signing the orders, Obama said, "the message we are sending around the world is that the United States intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism, and we are going to do so vigilantly; we are going to do so effectively; and we are going to do so in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals."
President Obama announced Monday that military trials will resume for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, a move that won praise from Republicans, who say the president has finally "seen the light" on the value of trying such detainees at the facility.
Mr Obama insisted that military commissions would “ensure that our security and our values are strengthened. The American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” he said in a statement.
President Obama said in a statement that he remained committed to closing Guantánamo someday and to charging some terrorism suspects in civilian criminal courts. But Congress has blocked the transfer of prisoners from Guantánamo to the United States for trial, frustrating the administration’s plan to hold civilian trials for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-professed chief plotter of the Sept. 11 attacks, and others accused of terrorism.
"The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order," read the statement he signed on Jan. 22, 2009.
Obama has conceded that Guantanamo will not close anytime soon. “Obviously I haven’t been able to make the case right now, and without Congress’s cooperation, we can’t do it,” he said this month in an interview with the Associated Press. “That doesn’t mean I stop making the case.”
President Barack Obama failed two years ago to close the infamous Guantanamo Bay prison, and with Wednesday marking the 10th anniversary of its creation, debate is raging over whether a law he signed will ensure it will stay open for decades to come, jailing even United States citizens.
The responsibility lies not so much with the White House but with Congress, which has thwarted President Barack Obama's plans to close the detention center, which the Bush administration opened on January 11, 2002 with 20 captives.
President Barack Obama signed an executive order making a number of changes to policies regarding those detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a reversal of his previous policy, the order resumes military trials for Gitmo detainees. It also establishes a "periodic review" process for for long-held Guantanamo detainees who have not been charged, convicted or designated for transfer, "but must continue to be detained because they 'in effect, remain at war with the United States,'" according to a White House fact-sheet.