On January 22, 2009, newly sworn in President Barack Obama issued an executive order calling for the closure of Guantanamo Bay within one year, an attempt to fill one of his campaign promises. Today marks the fifth anniversary of the order. Of course, the detention facility is still open to this day.
Several times on the campaign trail from 2007 to 2008, Obama repeatedly promised he would close the facility.
John Bellinger, a former senior legal official in the Bush Administration, told NPR the Obama administration completely miscalculated how difficult it would be to put an end to it.
“I think part of it was that a number of officials in the administration had come to believe that a lot of innocent people were being held and that they could be released, [and those] remaining could be tried in federal court and that all this could be done easily in a year,” Bellinger said.
A review by the administration during that time found 50 of the roughly 240 prisoners held at the facility were too dangerous to ever be released and should be held indefinitely, and only 36 of those held could be prosecuted in a federal court. It was also suggested 126 detainees be transferred to their home countries or another country that would openly accept them. However, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) criticized the report saying there was political interference coming from the White House.