22 May 2009

Obama intent on closing detention centre

9:04 am on 22 May 2009

President Barack Obama is forging ahead with plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, in spite of Congress rejecting the proposal.

In a speech at the US National Archives on Thursday, he said the prison camp was a "mess" that needed to be cleaned up.

Mr Obama wants to close the camp by January 2010.

The Justice Department has confirmed an al-Qaeda suspect from Guantanamo will be brought to trial in New York.

He will be the first detainee to be prosecuted in a civilian court in the United States.

Senators voted 90-6 on Wednesday to block the transfer of the 240 inmates who remain at the prison. They also stalled a request for $US80 million.

The vote followed a similar decision by the House of Representatives.

The detention centre was established by former President George Bush after the 9/11 attacks.

Comment by Cheney

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said on Thursday the president's reversals of the previous administration's detainee policy amounted to "recklessness cloaked in righteousness and would make the American people less safe."

He said Mr Obama had made his Guantanamo decision with "little deliberation and no plan".