Friday 22 September 2017

New Guantanamo blow to Obama

Richard Lardner Washington

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama has been dealt another blow in his attempts to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

House Republicans have rebuffed his appeals and have instead proposed keeping the military-run prison open, by barring the administration from transferring its terror suspects to the US or a foreign country.

The provisions dealing with the fate of the remaining 166 prisoners are part of a defence policy bill drafted by Armed Services Committee chairman Howard P 'Buck' McKeon.

The Republican chairman released the bill yesterday, two days before Republicans and Democrats on the committee will vote on the measure.

Mr McKeon's legislation would block the US from spending $2.6bn (€1.9bn) to train and equip Afghan security forces until the defence and state departments have certified to Congress that the two countries have a bilateral security agreement governing the presence of US forces there after 2014.

Mr McKeon's bill also urges the Obama administration to "fully consider all courses of action" to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime from power. The legislation does not endorse providing weapons to the rebel forces.

PROMISE

Less than two weeks ago, Mr Obama renewed his 2008 campaign promise to close the Guantanamo prison. He argued that the indefinite detentions with little prospect of charges or a trial flouted the rule of law.

"Given my administration's relentless pursuit of al-Qa'ida's leadership, there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened," Mr Obama said.

Mr McKeon's bill says the Pentagon can spend money to upgrade Guantanamo, including $247.4m for military construction.

Irish Independent

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