EU/US : CONGRESS SCUPPERS OBAMA'S EFFORTS TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO.

The United States' terrorist suspect prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - a major source of tension in transatlantic relations for almost a decade - looks set to remain open for at least another year. The US Congress has blocked President Barack Obama's plans to shut the prison, approving a bill that effectively prevents Obama from moving detainees out of Guantanamo. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on 17 December and by the Senate on 22 December, with broad support from Democrats and Republicans. It is unlikely to be vetoed by President Obama given that it is attached to a larger spending bill for the US military for the coming year.

This is bad news for the EU, which has long demanded Guantanamo's closure. European governments have even tried to speed up this process by receiving two dozen Guantanamo detainees in Europe upon the request of the Obama administration. This bill makes it more difficult, henceforth, for such transfers to take place by insisting that detainees cannot be sent to countries that previously took detainees and did not prevent them from returning to terrorist activity. Congress has thwarted Obama's plan to move detainees to the US by depriving him of the funds he needs to build a new high-security prison in Illinois to house Guantanamo inmates. By stopping detainees getting to US soil, the Congress is essentially ensuring they will not be tried in civilian courts - something else Obama wanted to do. The move comes as US lawmakers have grown increasingly fearful of a public...

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