- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Throughout his first term, many of President Obama’s disappointed supporters charged that his administration had never really followed through on efforts to implement his January 2009 executive order closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Whether due to congressional resistance or the difficulty of finding countries to take in detainees, the issue seemed to have faded as a priority. But in the last month of his presidential campaign, Obama surprised many by insisting to Jon Stewart that closing Gitmo was still on his agenda:
“I still want to close Guantanamo,” Obama said in an interview for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” according to a media pool report. “We haven’t been able to get that through Congress.”
“One of the things we have to do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional help to do that,” Obama said, adding that “any President’s reined in in terms of some of the decisions we’re making.”
So what’s happened since then?
On January 4, he put aside a threatened veto and signed a Defense Authorization bill putting severe restrictions on his ability to relocate detainees out of Guantanamo.
And yesterday, as the trial of alleged 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed resumes at Guantanamo, it was announced that Daniel Fried, the veteran diplomat who had been working on the thankless task of repatriating detainees, was reassigned by the State Department and is now being replaced.
The opening days of Obama’s second term have brought developments on long dormant issues including gun control, women in the military, immigration reform, and at least a rhetorical nod to climate change. But there don’t seem to be many indications so far that the administration is putting Gitmo back on the table.