ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: The prison camp at Guantanamo Bay has been a recurring political headache for President Obama.
Just in the last few weeks, the attorney general’s decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammad to trail in New York has drawn the president fire on his right , while his admission that he won’t meet his deadline of closing Gitmo by January 2010 has angered some on his left.
On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, we spoke with Andy Worthington , a journalist who has written extensively about Guantanamo and is the director of a new documentary about some of those imprisoned there: “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo.”
Worthington said President Obama is sorting through complicated baggage left by the previous administration:
“I think it’s a great thing that the people who are genuinely accused of these terrible atrocities are actually going to face justice in a federal court,” he told us. “I’m slightly less happy that the military commissions have been revived as what appears to be a second-tier justice system for people that the administration perhaps thinks it has less evidence against.”
Worthington, who joined us from London, based his film around extensive interviews with former Guantanamo detainees, and has visited Gitmo repeatedly. Many detainees, he said, are caught in the same legal gray zone they were in under President Bush.
“Every day they wake up wondering when, if ever, they will be released. And this is still the same outcome of what the Bush administration set up, that it decided not to hold people as enemy prisoners of war or as criminals, but as this novel category of human being who really have no rights and can be held indefinitely -- which is an extraordinary mental anguish.”
And Worthington said he’s disappointed that President Obama won’t meet his January 2010 deadline for closing Gitmo: “It seems that without some effort to set a new deadline and to put pressure on Congress, they could be languishing in Guantanamo for years. And we could be having this same conversation a year from now.”
Watch the full interview with Andy Worthington HERE .
In the second part of today’s program, we tried out two would-be pundits, Kevin Huffman and Zeba Khan, the two finalists in The Washington Post’s “America’s Next Great Pundit” contest.
Read more about the contest HERE, and watch the video clip from their try-out with us HERE .