Eric Holder: U.S. will still close Guantanamo Bay
Jennifer Epstein May 9, 2011 03:35 PM EDT
The Obama administration still intends to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday, who said plans will likely not be altered by the killing of Osama bin Laden.
“Although we have not closed Guantanamo within the time period that we initially indicated … it is still the intention of the president, and it is still my intention, to close the facility that exists in Guantanamo,” he said in Paris at a joint press conference with French Interior Minister Claude Gueant. “We will continue our efforts in that regard.”
When President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, he promised to close the facility before the end of his first year in office and move the detainees who couldn’t be released to prisons in the United States. That plan hit some snags as Congress voted later that year to block funding to transfer or release detainees from the facility, and many in Obama’s liberal base have grown angry of his failure to follow through on what was a key 2008 campaign promise.
The bin Laden mission has fed an argument from the right that the prison should not be closed, given that the White House has said that some of the intelligence which led to Abbottabad was gathered from people in Guantanamo. But Holder said that he did not believe the detainment camp needs to be kept open to prevent future terrorist attacks.
In fact, Holder said, “We think that by closing that facility the national security of the United States will be enhanced.”
The attorney general added that he did not see the killing of Osama bin Laden changing attitudes about the prison in any substantial way. “I’m not sure that the death of bin Laden will have an impact on the timing of the closure,” he said, responding to a question about how the Al Qaeda leader’s death would alter the timeline for the facility’s closure.
“Many of those who have opposed the closure of Guantanamo within the United States have done so on a basis that I’m not sure is affected by the death of Bin Laden.” http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0511/54602.html