[JURIST] A report on the closure of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], due to be presented to US President Barack Obama [official website] Tuesday, will be delayed [press release, RTF] for six months, officials reported Monday. The government task force, assigned to create a new policy on terrorism detainees, missed its Tuesday deadline for a full report, instead presenting an interim report [text, PDF; prosecution protocol, PDF]. Another task force, appointed to review detainee interrogation policies, also missed the Tuesday deadline and received a two-month extension for its report. Despite the delay, White House officials said they remain confident that the facility will be shut down by January, in order to comply with Obama's executive order [text; JURIST report]. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] Executive Director Anthony Romero said:
The Obama administration must not slip into the same legal swamp that engulfed the Bush administration with its failed Guantanamo policies. Any effort to revamp the failed Guantanamo military commissions or enact a law to give any president the power to hold individuals indefinitely and without charge or trial is sure to be challenged in court and it will take years before justice is served. The only way to make good on President Obama's promise to shut down Guantanamo and end the military commissions is to charge and try the detainees in established federal criminal courts. Any effort to do otherwise will doom the Obama administration to lengthy litigation. A promise deferred could soon become a promise broken.
The delayed reports are the latest in a series of setbacks for Obama's plan to close the facility. Earlier this month, a former Guantanamo prosecutor told the House Judiciary Committee [official website] that the military commission system is "broken beyond repair" [JURIST report]. Also that week, a former US Navy Judge Advocate General [official website] told the Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) [text, PDF] should be repealed rather than reformed [JURIST report]. In May, Obama announced [JURIST report] that he would use the controversial military commissions system to try some Guantanamo Bay detainees. The move drew criticism [JURIST report] from human rights groups, which called the plan "fatally flawed," continuing a long line of criticism of the commissions [JURIST report] for admitting some evidence that is barred from federal court, including hearsay or coerced confessions. Congress has also refused [JURIST report] Obama's requests for funding to close the facility because there is no firm plan in place.