Obama Restarts Process to Move Guantanamo Prisoners

Image: Obama Restarts Process to Move Guantanamo Prisoners Cell Block C in the "Camp Five" detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013 06:55 PM

By Greg Richter

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The White House is ready to start transfers again of terrorism suspects from the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Wall Street Journal reports that President Barack Obama will make a speech Thursday stating his case again that closing the prison will aid America's fight against terrorism.

There are no plans for Obama to detail how he will speed up the process, the Journal reported, but the administration plans in the coming weeks to lift the ban on sending detainees to Yemen.

Obama promised on the 2008 campaign trail to close Guantanamo in the first year of his presidency because it had become a recruitment tool for terrorist organizations. He signed an executive order when he was inaugurated, but the deadline came and went with no action.

Transfers have taken place, but fewer occurred starting in 2011 because Congress passed tougher rules for allowing them.

There are currently 166 detainees held at the base, and 102 of them are currently engaged in a hunger strike.

Detainees from Afghanistan will likely be transferred to their home country first, with those from Yemen moving at a slower pace until it is determined that the Yemeni government can keep tabs on them, the Journal reported.

Human rights groups have been critical of Obama's slowness to keep his pledge to close the prison.

"He needs to make it clear he is serious this time," said Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch. "He promised the same thing four years ago. What makes this different? The transfers are what make this different."

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