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22 Jun, 2009 05:17

Wanna have Gitmo convicts around?

A promise to shut the Guantanamo Bay torture camp is proving rather more difficult for Barack Obama in office than on the election trail, because so far, nobody can tell what to do with the camp's inmates.

The issue has provoked a political storm for the White House, with some claiming that bringing inmates to the U.S. is a threat to America's national security.

Ask yourself: how would you feel about having a former Guantanamo detainee hanging out somewhere near your house?

The American president is pushing hard to meet the deadline of having the prison camp in Cuba shut down before next January.

But what seemed like a noble task at first has already exploded into a major controversy.

“It's a messy situation. It's not easy,” is how the American President put it.

With few countries willing to help, Obama says some Guantanamo detainees will have to be transferred to the U.S.

“We are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people,” promised the US President.

But his assurances are not calming words for many. And Obama is finding himself stuck between making a promise and bringing that promise to life. American politicians are nervous.

Lindsey Graham, Republican U.S. Senator put it bluntly:

“Whoever they are they going to be, how are they going to be imprisoned and how are they going to be tried and what are the rules regarding their release? Until that is done, I think it is a mistake to talk about closing Guantanamo Bay.”

Fearful of its approval ratings dropping even lower, many in Congress have got the jitters and don’t want to allow former inmates on to U.S. soil.

Some argue that the former prisoners could come back to haunt America.

“You don't want to call them enemy combatants, fine – call them what you want – just don't bring them into the United States. Tired of calling it a war? Use any term you prefer. Just remember it is a serious step to begin unveiling some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11,” former US Vice President (2001-2009), Dick Cheney, warned the President.

And after the torture revelations which scandalized the world, what if the former inmates want revenge? The detainees have spent years imprisoned in inhumane conditions: tortured and some even turned suicidal.

So where will they all go and what will they do? Many will most likely face trial, either in federal or military courts. A couple of inmates have already been sent to places like Bermuda. Others have already been cleared for release, but with nowhere for them to go.

New York is the one place in the U.S. holding the first and possibly last detainee. He will be tried here. But the future of over 200 other people who have been going through a legal limbo for years is far from clear.

Cynthia McKinney, a former U.S. congresswoman who resigned from Obama's Democratic Party, tells RT his administration is doing nothing to punish those involved in the torture of detainees at Guantanamo prison camp.

“Torture is not only against US law, it is also against international law. Earlier on, I sent a message to the White House in which I said “Mr. President! Please, do not become an accessory to a crime. In fact, not only has the Obama administration refused to investigate, the Obama administration has sent its Justice Department into court to protect those very individuals who ordered and approved of torture. Therefore, this administration, in my opinion, is walking a very fine line. It could easily become an accessory to torture, war crimes and crimes against humanity,” McKinney says.