Whenever the US announces a foreign policy change there is always a “but,” and that was likely in the minds of Guantanamo Bay hunger strikers today, fresh off a new Obama promise to close their site, as they continued a strike that begin in early February.
The “but,” in this case, is that the US still doesn’t look like it’s anywhere near releasing any of the detainees, even the ones already formally cleared for release, and talk of closing the facility some day seems more a politician’s soundbite than an actual policy goal.
The White House was quick to insist that the “moratorium” on releasing Yemenis back to Yemen remains in place. In other words, even though they are talking about more reviews for “determining whether detainees can be released,” those determinations are no closer to actually releasing anyone.
Indeed, while this promise is supposed to be aimed at placating the strikers, the review system, such as it is, is likely a big part of the problem, as several of the strikers have already had those reviews and were cleared for release, and are still stuck there with no hope of release.
Years of empty promises to release innocent detainees have clearly done damage to the administration’s credibility with everyone involved, and more promises will mean less than nothing until some actual changes come with them.