Gitmo Inches Toward Its Final Days, or Does It?

Over the weekend, the Pentagon airlifted a slew of reporters and a handful of family members of 9/11 victims to Guantanamo Bay to watch the latest in the trial of five prisoners.

What was mostly meant as a photo op turned into a genuine, huge news story when all five detainees, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, abruptly pleaded guilty.

In the aftermath of the guilty pleas, everyone is wondering what's next for the most glaringly visible stain on America's international ethical reputation. Obama has already pledged to close down Gitmo, and a judge today officially delayed the next trial on the docket, of a young Afghan prisoner in January, until the prez-elect decides what to do.

That's where those 9/11 families come back into play. Most of the relatives flown to Cuba this week told reporters they'd been informed Obama was reconsidering his pledge in light of intelligence he was now privy to regarding the prisoners.

Just to spice things up, the ACLU today got 31 other 9/11 family members to sign a letter demanding that Obama follow through and shut down Gitmo.

So what exactly is going to happen to our favorite abomination of international justice? Slate offers a nice rundown of all the lingering problems Obama will have to tie up to close Gitmo completely.

But really, only one thing is clear: Like cleaning up America's international reputation in general, closing Gitmo isn't going to be as quick or easy as simply locking the doors and putting those orange jumpsuits in storage.

-- Tim Elfrink

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink