National Security

Clinton pushed Obama to close Guantanamo in 2013

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Shortly before she left his administration, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed President Obama to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in a newly disclosed confidential memo.

“We must signal to our old and emerging allies alike that we remain serious about turning the page on GTMO and the practices of the prior decade,” Clinton wrote in the confidential memo from January of 2013. 

{mosads}Among other steps, Clinton urged Obama to transfer some detainees to American courts and more proactively engage with congressional opponents of the administration’s plan to close the facility.

“The revitalization of transfers, efforts to prosecute some detainees in federal courts, a longer-term approach to the return of Yemeni detainees, and credible periodic reviews would send that signal and renew a credible detention policy,” she wrote.

The memo was obtained by the Huffington Post under the Freedom of Information Act. It was sent two weeks before Clinton left office. 

In the brief memo, she worried that congressional efforts to keep Guantanamo Bay open “are undermining some of the support” that Obama’s early actions “helped us earn from the public and out allies.”

“If we do not make advances in closing GTMO, that support will erode further,” she warned.

The continued operation of the military detention facility in Cuba has dogged Obama, who pledged to close it down during his 2008 campaign. Despite the occasional transfer of detainees to other countries, there are currently 112 people imprisoned at the camp. Many of them have been there for years, but have never been charged with a crime.

Congress has repeatedly thrown up barriers to Obama’s plan.

Last week, Obama signed a defense policy bill with tough new restrictions barring the White House from moving detainees to the United States or to construct a facility to house them within the nation’s borders.

In a statement released after Obama signed the legislation, the president said that he was “deeply disappointed” with the restrictions, and suggested that they could be unconstitutional. 

Obama is preparing a new plan to close the facility throughout executive action as he nears his final year in office.  

Tags Guantanamo Bay detention camp Guantánamo Bay Hillary Clinton
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