Obama's Executive Order Ends Difficult Chapter For White House On Guantanamo President Obama came into office two years ago promising to close the prison within a year. The executive order announced Monday — which resumes military tribunals at Guantanamo and sets up a process for the indefinite detention of certain prisoners — serves as acknowledgment that it will be open for some time.
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Obama's Order Ends Difficult Chapter On Guantanamo

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Obama's Order Ends Difficult Chapter On Guantanamo

Obama's Order Ends Difficult Chapter On Guantanamo

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Steve Inskeep is in Cairo, and we'll be hearing his reports from there over the next couple of weeks. I'm Renee Montagne.

ARI SHAPIRO, Host:

NPR's Mara Liasson reports.

MARA LIASSON: The president said he's still committed to closing the prison and trying terrorists in civilian courts. But the announcement made it clear that he would not be able to fulfill one of his most famous promises.

BARACK OBAMA: I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow through on that.

LIASSON: Ben Wittes is an expert on law and terrorism at the Brookings Institution.

BEN WITTES: It begins a process of breaking the paralysis that has gripped the administration on a subject that was, you know, two years ago, supposed to be one of their early and very vivid accomplishments. And this has turned out very badly for them.

LIASSON: And so, Wittes says, yesterday's order also acknowledges that the prison population has probably reached an irreducible minimum.

WITTES: And the executive order is an effort to create a process for long- term detainees at Guantanamo, whom they are not going to be letting go anytime soon, and they hope to be eventually moving to the United States when they close Guantanamo. But that doesn't seem to be happening, either.

LIASSON: But the White House move was the latest in a series of disappointments for civil libertarians, including Hina Shamsi, the director of the ACLU's National Security Project.

HINA SHAMSI: On the issue of Guantanamo, the high water mark of the civil liberties record of President Obama on this issue may have been two days after he took office. And since then, we've only taken steps backward.

LIASSON: Mara Liasson, NPR News, the White House.

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