President Barack Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center for terror suspects on his first day in office, but the Defense Department has consistently used strategic moves to keep the facility open, according to a Reuters report.
After numerous interviews with current and former administration officials, Reuters reported that the Department of Defense used bureaucratic hurdles to block Obama’s ambitions of transferring the terror suspects elsewhere and closing the prison down.
Though Obama signed an executive order in January 2009 to close the prison in his first year, it will likely still be open when he leaves office because of the Pentagon maneuvering, Reuters reports.
Negotiating prisoner releases was like "punching a pillow," said James Dobbins, the former State Department special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He said Defense Department officials "would come to a meeting, they would not make a counter-argument," he said. "And then nothing would happen."
The delays led to four Afghan detainees spending four years in Guantanamo after they had already been approved for transfer. Another six prisoners who were approved for transfer to Uruguay, five prisoners approved for transfer to Kazakhstan, one prisoner approved for transfer to Mauritania and one prisoner approved for transfer to Britain were delayed for months or years by Pentagon inaction, Obama administration officials griped.
The slow pace of approving transfers was a factor in Obama ousting former Defense Secretary Charles Hagel, the report said.
The Defense Department did not respond to Reuters for this story.