Pentagon Ordered to Draft Plans to Close Guantanamo

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via BBC

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered plans to be drafted for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, the Pentagon says.

A team was looking at moving inmates from the facility in a way that continued to protect the American people, a spokesman said.

About 250 detainees remain in the controversial Cuba camp.

US President-elect Barack Obama says closing the camp “in a responsible way” is one of his top priorities.

Mr Obama, who takes office on 20 January, said earlier this week he aimed to close the facility within two years.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Mr Gates – who is to retain his position in the new administration – had wanted to be prepared in case Mr Obama wished to tackle the issue “early in his tenure”. Continue reading

[Op-Ed] Is Obama George Bush the Third?

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via Washington Post

In electing Barack Obama, the country traded the foreign policy of the second President Bush for the foreign policy of the first President Bush.

That is the meaning of Obama’s apparent decision to keep Robert Gates on as defense secretary and also to select Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

With strong ties to the military and a carefully cultivated image of tough-mindedness, Clinton will protect the incoming president’s back from those on the right ready to pounce at any sign of what they see as weakness.

As for Gates, Obama has found the ideal figure to help him organize his planned withdrawal from Iraq, and to bless it.

What’s most striking about Obama’s approach to foreign policy is that he is less an idealist than a realist who would advance American interests by diplomacy, by working to improve the country’s image abroad, and by using military force prudently and cautiously. Continue reading