Col. Morris Davis, who resigned from his position at Guantánamo in protest, says there's no upside to leaving the facility open. Christiane Amanpour, Jeffrey Toobin, Ari Fleischer and Amy Holmes weigh in on what should happen to the detainees imprisoned at Gitmo.
For nearly three months, dozens of detainees at Guantánamo have been on a hunger strike, trying to gain sympathy in their quest for freedom. Many of the men have been cleared for release for years, but are still there.
When reporters asked Pres. Obama about the hunger strike on Wednesday, he once again said it should be closed and pushed Congress to take action. "I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us, in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed," the president said.
Supporters of Guantanamo disagree and point out that dozens of men set free have returned to terrorism.
More armed guards were visible early Monday morning near where two war crimes proceedings were under way for two terrorism suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
One of the proceedings - for Canadian-born terrorism suspect Omar Khadr - marked the beginning of the first full Military Commission of the Obama administration.
The appearance of the 23-year-old Khadr, who was 15 when he was captured on the battlefield in Afghanistan, endedspeculation that he might refuse to attend the session. It is still unclear whether he will actively participate in his defense. Khadr is the youngest detainee at the U.S. detention facility.
The New York Times
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, suspected of being a Qaeda terrorist, was captured in Pakistan in 2004, held in secret prisons run by the C.I.A. and then moved to the naval base at Guantánamo Bay. During about five years of detention, he says, he was confined in harsh conditions, abused during interrogation and denied a lawyer.
Since the spring, Mr. Ghailani has also been a defendant in federal court in Manhattan, the first Guantánamo detainee to be moved to the civilian courts.
From the moment the Obama administration announced that it would seek to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the professed planner of 9/11, and other Guantánamo detainees in the same federal court, the wisdom of the decision has been debated. Critics of the move have worried that government secrets will leak, that evidence won through harsh tactics could lead to dismissals, or that a trial would be used as a platform to spew hate.
Jeffrey Toobin | Bio
CNN Senior Legal Analyst
New Yorker Columnist
The federal courts face an unprecedented challenge in trying accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo detainees for the terrorist attacks that took 3,000 lives, says CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Mohammed, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi and four other Guantanamo detainees are being transferred to New York to face trial in a civilian court for the September 11 attacks, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday.
They will face trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York - a short distance from the World Trade Center towers that were destroyed in the September 11 attacks. Holder said he expects the government to seek the death penalty in the cases.
Mohammed is the confessed organizer of the attacks on New York and the Pentagon. But his confession could be called into question during trial. A 2005 Justice Department memo - released by the Obama administration - revealed he had been waterboarded 183 times in March 2003, a technique that President Obama has called torture.
CNN spoke with Toobin on Friday morning. A former assistant U.S. attorney, Toobin is a senior analyst for CNN and author of "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court."
Editor's Note: Five Guantanamo Bay detainees with alleged ties to the 9/11 conspiracy, including accused mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be transferred to New York to go on trial in civilian court, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday.
Jill Dougherty and Elise Labott
A senior administration official spoke with CNN’s Jill Dougherty and Elise Labott about the resettlement of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
Here are some stats about Gitmo detainees and their transfers.
1. When President Obama took office there were 242 detainees at Guantanamo. Now there are 215. Of those, 115 have been approved for transfer.
CNN White House Correspondent
In the first major shakeup among President Obama's senior staff, White House Counsel Greg Craig announced his resignation Friday.
The resignation will take effect on January 3, according to a letter Craig sent to Obama.
Craig is being pushed out in favor of veteran Democratic lawyer Bob Bauer because of a dispute over plans to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, CNN learned Thursday.
"I want to tell you how proud I am of all that your legal team has accomplished on your behalf," Craig wrote in the letter. "It has been a busy first year (for the administration), and I feel very lucky to have been part of it."
Obama, in a written statement, called Craig a "close friend and trusted adviser who tackled many tough challenges."
Candy Crowley | BIO
CNN Senior Political Correspondent
On that unusually balmy Chicago night a year ago, the candidate who campaigned on what he called the "fierce urgency of now" became the president-elect who needed time.
"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term," Barack Obama told the crowd in Grant Park. And he still needs time to turn a myriad of campaign promises into policy.
The list of the undones is long, varied and mostly difficult - immigration reform, new financial market regulations and a game-changing energy bill.
And compounding problems on the president's lengthy to-do list is that 2010 is an election year, generally an inefficient time for lawmaking.
Obama can put down several major campaign promises as "in the works."
Arsalan Iftikhar, creator of themuslimguy.com
In addition to the mighty Pearl Jam (led by legendary front-man Eddie Vedder) and the uber-hipster timeless classics known as REM (led by equally-legendary Michael Stipe), several prominent musicians from around are rallying together to ensure that their music is not being used to torture at Gitmo’s Camp X-Ray and that our American government lives up to its promise of closing the infamous lawless prison known around the world simply as ‘Guantanamo Bay’.
Additionally, Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails) and Tom Morello (Grammy-winning musiciain formerly of Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave) whose music with the bands Nine Inch Nails and Rage Against The Machine have “already been linked to interrogations at the prison”, according to previously released government records.
“Guantanamo is known around the world as one of the places where human beings have been tortured — from waterboarding to stripping, hooding and forcing detainees into humiliating sexual acts — playing music for 72 hours in a row at volumes just below that to shatter the eardrums,” said Tom Morello, formerly of Audioslave and Rage Against The Machine.
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