Obama’s prison: last-ditch push to close Guantanamo

(By Deutsche Welle) US President Barack Obama’s new Guantanamo envoy has 18 months to close the infamous prison. Lee Wolosky will face election-year politics and a deeply skeptical Congress. Mission impossible? Spencer Kimball reports.

He was inaugurated on a Tuesday. The following Thursday, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Leading Republicans and Democrats agreed that the prison had become a propaganda tool for America’s enemies and a distraction to her allies. The plan was to shut Guantanamo down within a year.

But a president sets priorities and the candidate of change had more immediate concerns. The economy was a wreck and nearly 50 million Americans had no health insurance. After Republicans took control of Congress in 2010, they refused to allocate money to close Guantanamo.

Six years and two special envoys later, the detention facility remains open. Last Tuesday, the administration appointed Lee Wolosky as the State Department’s Special Envoy for Guantanamo Closure. The position had been vacant for six months.

Wolosky, an attorney, was the director of Transnational Threats under the Clinton administration and early in the Bush administration. John Bellinger, who served on President Bush’s National Security Council, has known Wolosky for two decades.

“Lee Wolosky has experience inside Washington with counterterrorism on the White House staff and ought to be able to – if anyone can – persuade a very skeptical Republican Congress that he and the president have a plan to close Guantanamo,” Bellinger told DW.

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‘War on Terror’ knocks on American homeland’s door

(By Deutsche Welle) Osama bin Laden is dead, but Washington’s War on Terrorism continues to rage in the hearts and minds of many Americans. New counterterrorism provisions raise the specter of mandatory military detention in the US.

Ten years into America’s self-declared War on Terrorism, the US government is still struggling to clearly delineate the legal and geographic boundaries of its fight against a globalized and ruthless non-state adversary. In the process, it has raised concerns among rights groups that Washington has fallen into a self-defeating thought paradigm, which could lead to the expansion of military law in the very homeland whose democratic institutions the federal government has sworn to defend.

In the latest round of political wrangling over the dimensions of America’s war, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) just before the New Year, a law that appropriates $662 billion (519 billion euros) in defense spending.

But it was the NDAA’s counterterrorism provisions regarding the military detention of suspected al Qaeda members that sparked a fury of debate in the US, over whether the conflict abroad must now be fought with the military at home.

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