[JURIST] Advisers to US President-elect Barack Obama [transition website] said Monday that he plans to issue an executive order during his first week in office closing the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] prison camp, according to a report by the Associated Press. The report comes after Obama said Sunday in a television interview [ABC transcript] that he planned to close the base, but that there were still significant obstacles preventing it from being closed immediately. Responding to the interviewer's question of whether or not the base would be closed during his first 100 days in office, Obama said:
It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize and we are going to get it done but part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom who may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted even though it's true. And so how to balance creating a process that adheres to rule of law, habeas corpus, basic principles of [the] Anglo-American legal system, by doing it in a way that doesn't result in releasing people who are intent on blowing us up…
[Closing Guantanamo within the first 100 days is] a challenge. I think it's going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do. But I don't want to be ambiguous about this. We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our constitution. That is not only the right thing to do but it actually has to be part of our broader national security strategy because we will send a message to the world that we are serious about our values.
Reports on details of Obama's plan to close the Guantanamo prison were first made in November, but his advisers have been careful to clarify that the incoming administration has not made a final decision [JURIST reports] on how to close the base or deal with those still detained there. Officials for current President George W. Bush [official website] have cited a number of factors which have delayed the closure of the base, including the problem of where to send those released. Several US allies, including Britain, Germany, Ireland, and Portugal have said they may accept released detainees. Last week, UN torture investigator Manfred Nowak called on more countries [JURIST reports] to accept the detainees to expedite the closure of the base.