by RAy Fleming

O F the several poisoned chalices that George W Bush left for Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House it seemed initially that the problem of Guantanamo Bay was the most manageable. In his election campaign Obama promised to close the military detention center as a matter of priority. Yet today, with America's withdrawal from Iraq completed, if imperfectly, and the conclusion of the Afghanistan war within reach, Guantanamo still has 166 inmates with no closure in sight. It is not a cheap shot to say that if Russia or China had a comparable problem it would be exploited constantly by the US government and media to show their disregard for human rights. President Obama admits that he underestimated the legal and other difficulties in closing Guantanamo. But there is no evidence that he is actively finding answers to these obstacles. Meanwhile, one hundred of the 166 inmates have been on hunger strike since February and several are being force-fed, sometimes brutally. Of the remaining prisoners only six have been formally charged and many of the others still do not know after eleven years what they are accused of. Some fifty Yemenis have been cleared for release but because their country is considered a terrorist base they have not been freed. In America's good name Barack Obama needs to act on the promise he made nine years ago.