U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on 14 April 2010 turned sour.
Questioned on the long-awaited and many-a-time deferred closure of Guantánamo, Mr. Holder was neither capable of providing a date nor of indicating his intentions. Fifteen months after his nomination, the Attorney-General still has no clue about those prisoners who are due for release and those who have to be tried by civilian courts.
In fact, a media campaign convinced U.S. public opinion that there would be new attacks on U.S. soil if prisoners were to be transferred to undergo trial there. The Obama administration, already shaken by the polls, has changed its mind about holding the trial of five prisoners in New York so as to make no waves. Ever since, absent an alternative solution, plans to close Guantánamo have been put on hold.
The Senators pledged their support for any solution that the Administration would opt for, but lamentably none is on the table.
One of President Barack Obama’s campaign promises was that Guantánamo would be closed by January 2010 at the latest. It was also a commitment made by Attorney General Eric Holder during the Senate Confirmation Hearings on his nomination.
However, as we have often reiterated, the civilian trial of Guantánamo prisoners within a democratic framework remains an illusion as long as Washington continues to defend its version of the September 11 attacks. On this issue, the Obama administration has been caught up by its own contradictions.