POLITICS
05/08/2013 03:22 pm ET

Martha Rayner, Guantanamo Lawyer: Obama Must Accept Blame For 'His Prisoners'

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Martha Rayner, a Fordham University law professor who has represented a number of Guantanamo detainees, accused President Barack Obama of ducking his responsibility for the prison's continued existence.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Rayner swatted Obama for repeatedly denouncing the negative effect Guantanamo has on the nation's global standing while simultaneously failing to acknowledge that he could do something about it.

Obama has the power, Raynor explained, to transfer detainees from Guantanamo to other countries -- albeit after he has made "certain security assurances to Congress."

And "every day Mr. Obama fails to start the transfer process is another day that he affirmatively decides to keep these men locked up," Raynor wrote. "Mr. Obama must accept that the men held at Guantanamo are his prisoners, not George W. Bush's."

Instead, he recently and "inaccurately blamed Congress for the continued existence of the prison, saying 'Congress determined they would not let us close it,'" she wrote, referring to Obama's comments at an April press conference. The president was discussing the prison in the context of a hunger strike that has included at least 100 of Guantanamo's 166 detainees.

Obama is correct that Congress has worked to make it increasingly difficult to entirely close down the prison. But as The Huffington Post has reported, many of the detainees who have joined the most recent hunger strike have already been cleared for release; they remain imprisoned because the administration hasn't been willing or able to find places to send them.

Read Rayner's entire op-ed at The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

Rayner similarly criticized Obama in April for failing to exercise authority on Guantanamo.

"As I said, if our government has evidence against these men and believes they can convict them in a fair trial, they should do so and they should be punished accordingly. But if that evidence is not there, if a fair trial cannot be given, the men should be released -- it's simply enough already," she said in an interview with Press TV. "The Obama administration won't put political capital behind the issue. They could do it if they really wanted to and they simply won't."

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