Barack Obama dealt blow over Guantánamo Bay closure
Published 09/12/2010 | 11:52
Barack Obama's plan to close the Guantánamo Bay prison was dealt a significant blow on Wednesday night when congressmen voted to block the release of its inmates.
The House of Representatives also expressly voted to bar public money being spent on transferring Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11, attacks, to the US mainland.
Mr Obama promised in his 2008 presidential campaign to end the detention of terror suspects at the US naval base in Cuba, and said Mohammed and other prisoners would be tried in American civilian courts.
The bans were attached to a catch-all spending bill covering the US government's running costs until October next year. It must now be passed by the Senate and approved by Mr Obama.
The bill said no funds could be "used to transfer, release, or assist in the transfer or release to or within the United States, its territories, or possessions Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any other detainee".
Mr Obama's administration said promptly after the vote: "We strongly oppose this provision".
While Mr Obama's Democrats lost control of the House in last month's midterm elections, its composition is currently the same as before until the new Congress is sworn in next month.
There are currently 174 detainees in the Guantánamo prison. More than 30 were due to be prosecuted either through criminal courts or military commissions in the US, a move opposed by Republicans.
Last month Ahmed Ghailani, the first inmate to face a civilian trial, was acquitted of all but one of the 285 charges against him over the bombings of two US embassies in Africa by al-Qaeda in 1998.