Thursday, at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Gary Robbins delivered another response to the "many concerns" expressed by Russia about the ongoing hunger strike by many of the terrorist detainees at the Guantánamo Bay facility:
Last Thursday, President Obama reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO), and proposed a series of steps to achieve that end, including his intention to lift the Presidential moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen. The President also called on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from Guantánamo, which the Administration has long maintained impede its ability to close the detention facility. To the extent possible, the United States will transfer those detainees who have been designated for transfer, and where appropriate, will prosecute others in our courts and military justice system. While it will take some time to fully close the detention facility in Guantánamo, all U.S. detention operations will continue to be carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions, and all other applicable international and domestic laws.
In the meantime, the Department of Defense is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the detainees who remain at the facility.
Moreover, the United States remains committed to transparency about the facility and the military commissions. As we have previously noted, we are working with ODIHR to accommodate a visit Guantánamo and observe military commission proceedings. We have also offered to host the visit of a Russian delegation to Guantánamo, given the many concerns that the Russian Federation has expressed about the facility. That invitation remains open.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
One of President Obama's first acts in office in 2009 was an executive order to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. The president has blamed Congress for its continued operation.
In his joint press conference with David Cameron this morning, Barack Obama asserted that the reason Moscow doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the White House on Syria is because of the Cold War. “I don't think it’s any secret that there remains lingering suspicions between Russia and other members of the G8 or the West,” said Obama. “It's been several decades now since Russia transformed itself and the Eastern Bloc transformed itself. But some of those suspicions still exist.”
As the country awoke to the news of a massive manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers in the early morning hours of Friday, April 19, reporters began pressing sources at the FBI and the Justice Department for information on the two attackers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The response, at least to some reporters: We don’t know anything about them.
The Obama administration now believes that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad may have used chemical weapons. Today the White House released a letter explaining that the American “intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specially the chemical agent sarin.”
Secretary of State John Kerry announced today in Brussels, Belgium that the Boston bomber was radicalized in Russia, Chechnya. "[H]e learned something where he went and he came back with a willingness to kill people," Kerry said in response to a question from the press.
The question from the reporter, according to a transcript provided by the State Department, was, "Sir, with the problem we have that young people go to Syria (inaudible), does that matter also to the U.S., do you have the same problem?"
Walter Russell Mead writes that “Francois Hollande really can’t catch a break. One of the most memorable election promises he made was to raise marginal tax rates on the very rich—those making €1 million or more—to an eye-popping 75%. His government has, alas, finally decided to scrap that particular pledge.”
The Russian energy company Gazprom is offering to bailout Cyprus in exchange for gas exploration rights, according to media reports.
"Russian energy giant Gazprom has offered the Republic of Cyprus a plan in which the company will undertake the restructuring of the country’s banks in exchange for exploration rights for natural gas in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, local media reported," reports GreeceReporter.com.