Closing Gitmo may take up to a year

Jan. 13, 2009 at 7:49 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Closing the controversial military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, could take months and perhaps a year, experts said.

President-elect Barack Obama, who pledged during the campaign to shutter the prison, plans to issue an executive order on his first full day in office, sources told The New York Times.

One Obama transition official said the new administration expected it would take several months to transfer some of the remaining 248 prisoners to other countries, determine how to try other suspects and address legal matters associated with closing the camp.

One transition official said the Obama administration expected to announce its Guantanamo plans next week, the Times reported Tuesday.

However, transition team spokeswoman Brooke Anderson declined to comment on any plan, saying, "President-elect Obama has repeatedly said that he believes that the legal framework at Guantanamo has failed to successfully and swiftly prosecute terrorists, and he shares the broad bipartisan belief that Guantanamo should be closed."

Obama said on a Sunday talk show he may not immediately shut the controversial prison down, acknowledging the intricacies in accomplishing the task. Sarah Mendelson, who wrote a report on how to close the prison, said Obama's comments appeared to indicate the difficulty of the task, which she said could take a year to complete.

"I thought he was trying to manage expectations of how quickly those detainees who remain can be sorted into two categories: those who will be released and those who will be prosecuted," Mendelson said.

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