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Closing Guantanamo Bay no longer a priority for Obama: report

world Updated: Jun 26, 2010 15:24 IST

President Barack Obama may not be able to fulfill his promise of closing down infamous Guantanamo Bay by the end of his term because of political opposition and "inertia" on part of the administration, a media report said on Saturday.

The initial date for shutting down the detention facility was 2010 but there has been considerable resistance to the proposal that the prisoners be shifted to a prison in Illinois, according to the New York Times.

"There is a lot of inertia against closing the prison, and the administration is not putting a lot of energy behind their position that I can see," said Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat.

Levin said that "the odds are that it will still be open" by the next presidential inauguration.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who also supports shutting it, said the effort is "on life support and it's unlikely to close any time soon."

Senior officials told NYT that the Obama administration had done what it could and even identified the Illinois prison but Congress had failed to put these suggestions into motion.

"The president can't just wave a magic wand to say that Gitmo will be closed," said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But Levin noted that Obama and his team were also not trying hard enough.

"They are not really putting their shoulder to the wheel on this issue," he said.

"It's pretty dormant in terms of their public positions."

A March 2010 poll, showed that 60 per cent of Americans wanted it to stay open.

The report noted that people in the US had become wary and anxious after a string of failed terror attacks from an attempt to blow up a Detroit bound plane on Christmas Day to the Times Square car bomb fiasco in May.

Also a recent Pentagon study, obtained by the newspaper, shows taxpayers spent more than $ 2 billion between 2002 and 2009 on the prison.

Administration officials believe taxpayers would save about $180 million a year in operating costs if Guantánamo detainees were held at Thomson.

On the other hand, criticism against the detention centre had been a little muted since a few changes for the better had been incorporated like cruel interrogation techniques and more safeguards have been granted to the defendants by the military commissions.