22 Jan 2014

Retired generals want Guantanamo closed

8:52 pm on 22 January 2014

Thirty-one retired US military officers have urged President Barack Obama to make good on his promise to close the Guantanamo prison by speeding up efforts to transfer detainees.

"We appreciate your leadership this past year in recommitting to closing Guantanamo," the former generals and admirals wrote in a letter released by Human Rights First.

"Guantanamo does not serve America's interests. As long as it remains open, Guantanamo will undermine America's security and status as a nation where human rights and the rule of law matter."

The signatories included a former commandant of the US Marine Corps, general Charles Krulak, the former chief of staff of the US Air Force, general Merrill McPeak, and the former head of the military's Central Command, which oversees forces in the Middle East, general Joseph Hoar, AFP reports.

Five years ago, the same generals and admirals were on hand at the Oval Office to witness Mr Obama sign orders to shut Guantanamo and prohibit torture in interrogations.

But the prison is still operating at the US naval base in southeast Cuba, partly because of strong opposition by members of Congress.

Of the 779 detainees sent to the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, 155 inmates remain. Among the detainees, 78 are Yemenis and 55 have been cleared for release.