Pentagon Standing in the Way of Gitmo Closure

Military Brass Creating 'Bureaucratic Obstacles' to Keep Detainees

While President Obama’s initial promise in 2009 to close Guantanamo Bay within that first year in office stalled on his own inaction, his more recent efforts to reduce the number of detainees at the facility have faced a growing amount of resistance, according to reports, from the Pentagon leadership.

The report describes the State Department close to a deal on a hunger striking detainee, only to see the Pentagon refuse to release the detainee’s medical records because of “patient privacy.” The detainee, Ba Odah, was cleared for release five years ago, but without medical records, it seems he’s stuck at the facility.

This is just one example, they say, of growing “bureaucratic obstacles” the Pentagon is putting in the way of getting those detainees actually released. The State Department says that four detainees spent “an additional four years” at Gitmo after a transfer deal was already in place.

President Obama’s displeasure with his previous defense secretaries was reported at the time to be in part about disagreements on Gitmo, and Obama reprimanded current Secretary Ash Carter as recently as September for slow approval of detainee transfers.

The Pentagon sought to downplay the reports, saying they’d never been informed that any detainee transfer was outright cancelled because of their inaction. 17 detainees are to be transferred next month, according to Carter, with the first expected next week.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of