May 03, 2013


1/2 of the 166 prisonaers at Guantanamo have been cleared for years. But we won't release them. Obama blames Congress, but his lack of backbone is the real problem. I'm glad he's made a statement about closing the bizarre torture facility, but face it: he's usually all talk. PARDISS KEBRIAEI: "Yeah. Amy, it was an important statement. It was encouraging. It was time for the administration to say something, for President Obama to say something. We’re now three months into a hunger strike at Guantánamo. But President Obama has made very important statements about Guantánamo before, as well, and what we need now is action to go with that important statement. There are things that the president can do on his own in his administration starting now. He can, number one, appoint someone within the White House with the stature and the backing and the authority to get the job done. He said Guantánamo needs to close. It is a national security liability. It is legally unsupportable. It is morally wrong. It is unjust. The world knows it. President Obama knows it. The American people should know it. It needs to close. So, appoint someone to focus on this and lead the effort to closure, signal to his secretary of defense to start certifying people for transfer under the National Defense Authorization Act, and lift the blanket ban that continues on all repatriations to Yemen—that he imposed. That is clearly within his control. So there are specific things he can do now. NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what about the claim that Obama has repeatedly made that it’s Congress that is preventing him from taking some of the steps that you’ve outlined? PARDISS KEBRIAEI: I think that’s an excuse. I think cooperation by members of Congress would be important. Dianne Feinstein made an important statement last week calling for review of the cases of the 86 people. Of the 166 who remain, 86 have been approved for transfer by the administration. She called for the review of those cases and efforts to move those people out of Guantánamo. So, there is support within Congress. There are representatives who have said they would not only stand with President Obama, they would be cheering him. But ultimately, the authority rests with the president. He doesn’t need Congress. There is authority within the NDAA for his secretary of defense to certify transfers. What’s needed is political courage and action at this point. The administration transferred dozens of people before the NDAA went into effect. There were transfers happening in 2009 and ’10. The NDAA and Congress got in the way. They have made it more difficult, but they have not made transfers impossible by any stretch." WATCH THIS WHOLE FASCINATING SEGMENT: