Obama: Closing Gitmo More Difficult Than People Realize

By Jennifer Parker

Jan 11, 2009 9:07am

During our exclusive interview on "This Week" I asked President-elect Barack Obama if he thought he could make good on his campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay within his first 100 days.

"It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize," Obama told me during the interview, his first since arriving back in Washington, D.C. as president-elect.

"We are going to get it done but part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous, who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted even though it’s true," Obama said.

"And so how to balance creating a process that adheres to rule of law, habeas corpus, basic principles of Anglo-American legal system, by doing it in a way that doesn’t result in releasing people who are intent on blowing us up. That’s a challenge."

The president-elect signaled that closing Guantanamo Bay won’t happen quickly, but he said unequivocally that it will close.

"I think it’s going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do," he said. "But I don’t want to be ambiguous about this. We are going to close Guantanamo and we are going to make sure that the procedures we set up are ones that abide by our Constitution. That is not only the right thing to do but it actually has to be part of our broader national security strategy because we will send a message to the world that we are serious about our values."

–George Stephanopoulos

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