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Monday, November 17, 2008
05:42 Mecca time, 02:42 GMT      
News Americas
Obama vows to shut Guantanamo
Obama, left, says he wants to "stamp out al-Qaeda" once he takes office [AFP]

Barack Obama has promised to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

The US president-elect, in a television interview aired on Sunday, also pledged 
to withdraw troops from Iraq as part of rebuilding "America's moral stature".

"I have said repeatedly that I intend to close Guantanamo, and I will follow 
through on that," Obama said on the CBS programme 60 Minutes.

"I have said repeatedly that America doesn't torture. And I'm going to make 
sure that we don't torture. Those are part and parcel of an effort to regain 
America's moral stature in the world."

Obama had made the promise to shut the US prison while on the campaign trail, 
but his comments on Sunday were the first confirmation of his intentions since 
the November 4 election.

He did not, however, elaborate on where the Guantanamo detainees would be sent 
or whether they would be put on trial, or released.

Juvenile detainees

Obama's comments also came as the US revealed that it had held a dozen 
juveniles at Guantanamo, four more than it had reported to the United Nations 
in May.

The US still holds about 250 detainees
at the Guantanamo camp [EPA]

On Sunday Commander Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said the government 
had revised the figure in the report to the UN committee on child rights.

"As we noted to the committee, it remains uncertain the exact age of many of 
the juveniles held at Guantanamo, as most of them did not know their own date 
of birth or even the year in which they were born," he added.

The admission came after a study released by the Centre for the Study of Human 
Rights in the Americas last week said the US has held at least a dozen 
juveniles at Guantanamo, including a Saudi who committed suicide in 2006.

"The information I got was from their own sources, so they didn't have to look 
beyond their own sources to figure this out," said Almerindo Ojeda, director of 
the centre at the University of California in Davis.

The study said eight of the juveniles have been released.

About 250 prisoners are still being held at the US naval camp in Cuba on 
suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaeda or the Taliban.


Rights groups have urged Obama to move swiftly on shutting the prison, widely 
condemned by the international community, once he moves into the White House in 

Obama said his number one priority was to repair the stricken US economy by 
pushing for a stimulus package, adding that it would be a "disaster" for the 
government to just let the country's automotive industry collapse.

The government will have to do "whatever it takes" to revive the US economy and 
to "avoid a deepening recession", he said.

But he told CBS that as soon as he takes office on January 20, he and his 
security advisers will "start executing a plan that draws down our troops" from 

And he added that "it is a top priority for us to stamp out al-Qaeda once and 
for all" and that killing or capturing the group's mastermind Osama bin Laden 
was "critical" to US security.
 Source:     Agencies

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