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Obama ‘will not meet deadline in vow to shut down Guantanamo’

Obama’s pledge to shut down Guantanamo Bay will not be honoured until at least a year after the US president's self-imposed deadline — and may not be completed in his first administration.

The man in charge of the seven prison camps at the US naval base in Cuba is yet to receive direct orders to begin the transfer of prisoners.

In his first media interview since taking up the post three months ago, Admiral Jeffrey Harbeson said that, even if Mr Obama implemented his order today, it would take him six months to complete the job — a year after the January 2010 deadline imposed by Mr Obama when he signed the executive order in 2009.

The stalled timetable reflects growing opposition from the US public to the transfer of prisoners to the US mainland.

Plans to move the bulk of the 176 detainees to a specially built maximum security prison close to Chicago have run into fierce local and national opposition.

Criminal trials for the Guantanamo detainees accused of crimes linked to the September 11 attacks have also ground to a |halt over arguments about what process the suspects should face.

There is also little international enthusiasm for a settlement involving the transfer of the bulk of the remaining detainees, from 30 different countries, to new locations around the world.

Admiral Harbeson, who took up his year-long post in June, also admitted that the CIA had dramatically scaled down its interrogation operations at Guantanamo Bay and now only interviewed al-Qa'ida and Taliban suspects who volunteered to speak to its agents.

While politicians on Capitol Hill worry about how to put the Guantanamo genie back in the bottle, Admiral Harbeson said his focus was the proper treatment of the detainees, the majority of whom have been held for eight years without charge or trial.

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