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Obama’s Real Legacy at Guantánamo

As Barack Obama’s second term as US president comes to an end, much has been said and written about his achievements, or in the case of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, his failure to close it. One of his first actions upon being elected president for the first term in early 2009 was signing an executive order to the effect that Guantánamo would close within one year. Over 40 prisoners remain as he leaves office. - Aisha Maniar, One Small Window, 17 January 2017

By mid-2010, the White House conceded that closing Guantánamo was no longer a priority. A senior official told the New York Times: “Guantánamo is a negative symbol, but it is much diminished because we are seen as trying to close it. Closing Guantánamo is good, but fighting to close Guantánamo is O.K. Admitting you failed would be the worst.” Sandwiched between his pro-Guantánamo predecessor and successor, this casts Obama’s administration in a positive light without having to do anything. The focus on what Barack Obama has not done at Guantánamo, however, should not deflect from what he has done. In some respects, Donald Trump will have to be rather creative if he wishes to outdo Obama’s legacy at Guantánamo.

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