Obama Puts the Brakes on Guantánamo

Human Rights 01.22,09

Just hours after being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on January 20, President Barack Obama signed an executive order directing military prosecutors to seek a 120-day delay of all military tribunals at a U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

According to a court document (PDF), Obama will use that time to “undertake a thorough review” of both pending Guantanamo cases and the process for trying enemy combatants. Approximately 245 detainees are currently held at Guantanamo.

A military judge granted the request for the delay on Wednesday.

Following up on the executive order, Obama signed a series of orders today that include setting a timeline for shutting down Guantánamo detention centers within a year and closing down secret detention centers run by the CIA where detainees were reportedly tortured.

Human rights advocates welcomed putting the brakes on Guantánamo Bay. “This is the first ray of sunlight in what has been eight long years of darkness, of trampling on America’s treasured values of justice and due process. The order is remarkable in its timing and its clear intent to close down Guantánamo,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU