Rights groups alarmed over Obama's pace on Gitmo

Miami HeraldJanuary 12, 2009 

Human rights groups reacted with alarm Monday to President-elect Barack Obama's intent to wait more than 100 days before emptying the prison camps at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and urged him either way to swiftly halt the looming war crimes trial of a Canadian child soldier.

Obama told ABC News Sunday that closing the controversial camps would be complicated. Legal experts, he said, are consulting on how to close the camps that today confine 250 foreign men without risking U.S. national security.

By Monday Obama's transition team said in an anonymous leak to the Associated Press that Obama was preparing to issue an executive order for closing the detention center in his first week in office. However, no closing of Guantánamo is likely soon, with aides saying the executive order would begin the process.

Both Obama and Republican rival John McCain had campaigned on a promise to close the detention center as a way of restoring U.S. standing globally. Obama has not said since his election what he would do about the controversial post-9/11 war court, or commissions, where 18 of the 250 detainees face special trials.

"Restoring our commitment to the rule of law cannot be put on the back burner," countered Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Read more on this story in The Miami Herald.

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