Obama's First Act: Closing Gitmo (But Don't Say Farewell Just Yet)

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The prez-elect electrified the newswires yesterday when word leaked he plans to issue an executive order during his first week in office -- and maybe his first day -- officially shutting down the detention camps at Guantánamo Bay.

Thumbnail image for GTMOcamp.jpgBut before you start planning those Gitmo V-Day parades, Obama sounded a more cautious note this morning. Miami's favorite international disgrace to the south isn't actually going to close anytime soon, no matter what orders Obama tosses off on his first afternoon in the Oval Office.

The problem, as Riptide has pointed out in the past, is all of those damn prisoners. There are 248 left in Guantánamo, and Obama has to figure out what to do with them. "[Closing the camp] is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize," Obama told ABC News. He called the prospect of closing it within his first 100 days "a challenge."

According to the New York Times, it might take a full year to find new homes for all the prisoners.

Some will be shipped to other countries. (More than 100 nations have already told President Bush to shove off, but Obama is hopeful they might be more receptive to his pleas since they don't, you know, despise him.) Some will be taken to the States for trial.

Either way, it's likely Obama will put a halt to the military tribunals at Gitmo. Which means the next case on the docket -- that of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was 15 years old when he was wounded and taken prisoner in Afghanistan -- probably won't happen.

"[Obama's] position is that [the military tribunals] are a complete and utter failure," Mark Denbeaux, a detainee lawyer, told the Times.

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