Three Things Obama Can Do To Close Guantanamo

Thursday, 09 May 2013 13:46 By Palina Prasasouk, SpeakOut | Op-Ed
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May 21, 2009, Protecting Our System and Our Values speech by Obama:

"So going forward, my administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime" to handle such detainees "so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution."

April 30th, 2013, White House news conference when asked about the hunger strike:

"I've asked my team to review everything that's currently being done in Guantanamo, everything that we can do administratively, and I'm going to re-engage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that's in the best interests of the American people."

1. He can appoint an official State Department Position responsible for arranging detainee transfers.

In 2009 he issued an executive order to close Guantanamo, however he has never named an official to oversee that effort full-time. He promised a Periodic Review Boards. Instead, in 2012, he closed the office assigned for closing Guantanamo.

2. He can lift the ban on transferring detainees back to Yemen.

Of the 86 detainees cleared for release, 56 are Yemenis. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, tried to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear on a Northwest Airlines plane headed for Detroit in 2009. He received terrorist training in Yemeni and because of this all Yemeni detainees are no longer able to return to Yemen despite the Yemeni government's demands to repatriate their citizens.

3. He can veto the National Defense Authorization Act. Provisions to the bill expire on September 30th, 2013.

Obama declared again to veto all bills by congress blocking the closing of Guantanamo. Despite some restrictions, the National Defense Authorization Act gives authority to the president to resume prisoner transfers without congressional approval through a National Security Waiver. Under this provision, the secretary of defense can approve a transfer if he, the secretary of state and the director of national intelligence, determines that adequate steps are being taken to "substantially mitigate" the potential risk that a former prisoner might engage in future acts of terrorism once home. Yet Obama's national security team has not granted any waivers.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Palina Prasasouk

Palina Prasasouk is an independent reporter writing on issues of civil liberties, national security and Guantánamo, and a media fellow at Witness Against Torture. She is based out of New York City and lives in voluntary poverty at the Catholic Worker. She is agnostic. You can follow her on Twitter at @visiitor.

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