WASHINGTON - The White House acknowledged yesterday for the first time that it might not be able to close the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay by January as President Obama has promised.
Senior administration officials said difficulties in completing the lengthy review of detainee files and resolving thorny legal and logistical questions mean Obama’s self-imposed January deadline may slip. Obama remains as committed to closing the facility as he was when, as one of his first acts in office, he pledged to shut it down, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to more freely discuss the sensitive issue.
The prison in Cuba was created by former president George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a landing spot for suspected Al Qaeda, Taliban, and foreign fighters captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. But it has since become a lightning rod of anti-US criticism around the globe. About 225 detainees are still being held at the prison.
Obama promised soon after taking office - and many times since - to close the prison, arguing that doing so is crucial to restoring America’s image in the world and to creating a more effective antiterror approach.