Barack Obama will need more than goodwill to close Guantanamo


Obama promised to close Guantanamo on his ride to office in 2008. Four years in the White House saw little progress; with blame laid partly at the feet of Congress and partly the President's own slackness. Now he's taking a second run at the notorious Cuban prison-camp, where 100 of the 166 detainees are currently on hunger strike. Here's how the editorial writers at the New York Times and Washington Post responded.

The NYT is "pleased" at the announcement, but finds that pleasure tempered by the fact that Obama has failed to do anything for the previous five years, and failed to transfer prisoners long cleared for release. The hunger strike adds urgency to the need for closure. Now that Obama has admitted "Guantánamo is not necessary to keep America safe" it is incumbent upon him to act fast and shut it down.

The President's pledge hasn't entirely won over the Washington Post. They call Obama disingenuous in not facing up to the fact that his own actions "substantially contributed" to the impasse that has led to the hunger strike. His first task, now that efforts are to return to the problem, will be to repatriate the 27 Yemeni prisoners cleared for transfer; this won't be easy - al-Qaeda mainatains an active base in the country - so will require time and resources as well as goodwill.