Friday, May 1, 2009
European nations agree to take Guantanamo inmates, AG says
Well, it's looking as if U.S. President Barack Obama's 'apology tour' around Europe last month is beginning to pay dividends. At a stop in Berlin on his own three-day tour of Europe, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that he was "pleasantly surprised" that some European allies were willing to some accept terror suspects when the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, closes in January, according to the Washington Post newspaper. "I know that Europe did not open Guantanamo and that in fact a great many on this continent opposed it," Holder said. "To close Guantanamo, we must all make sacrifices, and we must all be willing to make unpopular choices." To be sure, the Europeans have been slow to offer to accept any of the prisoners, who were captured and held, some for years, in the U.S.-sponsored war on terror that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Many European countries, notably France, opposed the war on terror. Holder said the United States was conducting a review of all cases involving the 241 prisoners still held at Guantanamo and would be making formal requests to European nations about accepting specific inmates who are not considered security risks. Obama has put Holder, the first African American Attorney General in U.S. history, in charge of closing the prison, the Post said. While only England has accepted even one prisoner so far and France is only believed to be committed to resettling one Guantanamo inmate, U.S. officials are said to believe that European nations could eventually take as many as 60 suspects. Portugal, Ireland, Switzerland, Spain and Lithuania have also offered to resettle inmates, the Post said.