[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/21/guantanamo.hearings/art.gitmo.tower.gi.jpg caption="A guard keeps watch from a tower at the military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."]
CNN London Correspondent
The orange jumpsuits, the barbed wire, the ‘redacted' files. President Obama may be able to make it all history by closing Guantanamo Bay, but their affect on American justice will be profound.
Moazzam Begg, a former British inmate who was released in 2005, has always stressed to me that during torture and detention he would have confessed to anything. And that is the heart of the legal problem now facing the new administration.
"Guantanamo Bay is the most notorious prison on earth," says Begg, who believes Guantanamo is a radicalizing force for militants around the world.
Former inmates like Begg have joined a chorus of U.S. officials saying the prison, that many have criticized as, in effect, ‘above the law,' could now cripple the chances of bringing those who are truly dangerous to justice.
"What procedure can you use on people who have been systematically tortured, including water-boarding, including being stripped naked and beaten. What sort of evidence can be admitted into a court of law that has been extracted under that process?" says Begg.
The Bush Administration has always denied that it tortured prisoners, saying its treatment of prisoners complied with international law.
President Obama ordered the U.S. government to suspend prosecutions of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay for 120 days, military officials said Tuesday. During his inaugural speech, Obama stressed he would seek the moral high ground.
"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expediency's sake."
Critics of Guantanamo say that even after it is closed, its biting legacy may be that a place designed to keep us safe from terror, may actually make us less so.
Legal issues complicate the cases against even the most important terror suspects like Mohammed Al-Qahtani, the so called 20th high-jacker. Earlier this month, a Guantanamo judge admitted that Al-Qahtani was tortured and could not therefore be put forward for prosecution. But can the U.S. really set him free?
And beyond high profile suspects, human rights campaigners say there is little evidence to prosecute dozens of Guantanamo inmates still being held. They argue, keeping those detainees locked up will not help keep Al Qaeda at bay.
"I think it's actually one of the most harmful myths about it, that we can't let people go because we've got the tiger by the tail. I've met over 20 people and in my experience it's just not true," says Cori Crider of the human rights organization Reprieve.
For the new administration, closing Guantanamo could just be the beginning of a real headache: How to prosecute terror suspects within the American legal system and if you can't, how do you create a whole new legal framework to keep them locked up without a conviction?
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