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Ear to the Ground

Obama Says Guantanamo Prison ‘Hurts Us’

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Posted on Apr 30, 2013
AP/Ricardo Mazalan

A demonstrator hooded with a U.S. flag and dressed in orange to resemble the prisoners held by the U.S. military in Guantanamo kneels in front of riot police during protests in Bogota, Colombia, in 2007.

The president failed the first time he promised to close America’s island gulag, but heading into the fourth month of a hunger strike by prisoners there, Obama renewed his commitment Tuesday to shuttering the facility.

“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 counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed,” said Obama.

But how? Congress blocked the president’s earlier effort to shut down George W. Bush’s indefinite detention center, and there’s no indication that lawmakers have changed their minds.

Obama’s renewed pledge may just be a reminder that he would like the prison closed—he is frequently chastised by critics on the left for failing to deliver and with the hunger strike, Guantanamo is even more of a human rights blight.

The American Medical Association has condemned the force feeding of about 100 prisoners who have refused food in protest of their indefinite confinement.

Obama says he supports the force feeding, because, “I don’t want these individuals to die.”

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer.

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