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Guantanamo: Pentagon blocking Guantánamo deals to return Shaker Aamer and other cleared detainees

The Pentagon is blocking the return of UK permanent resident Shaker Aamer and two other longtime Guantánamo Bay detainees for whom the US Department of State has completed diplomatic deals to transfer home, the Guardian has learned.

American and UK diplomats reached an agreement in late 2013 for the return of Aamer, who has spent more than 13 years at the infamous detention facility without charge, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the understanding.

But even as the White House pledged to make his case a priority after a personal plea from David Cameron, Barack Obama’s defense secretaries have played what one official called “foot-dragging and process games” to let the deals languish.

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter, backed by powerful US military officers, have withheld support for sending Aamer back to the UK.

The ongoing obstruction has left current and former US officials who consider the detainees a minimal threat seething, as they see it undermining relations with Britain and other foreign partners while subverting from the inside Obama’s long-stifled goal of closing the infamous detention facility.

Some consider the White House indecisive on Guantánamo issues, effectively enabling Pentagon intransigence ahead of the release of a long-awaited strategy for closing the facility before Obama’s presidency ends.

Two of the men being kept at Guantánamo were cleared by a 2010 government review, in which the Pentagon participated, that found them to pose little threat to US or allied national security. Aamer is among them.

Administration officials said the Pentagon has never formally opposed the transfers, an act of outright resistance to a high-profile presidential commitment that risks reprisal. The transfers have the backing of the US Justice Department, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Read more: Pentagon blocking Guantánamo deals to return Shaker Aamer and other cleared detainees | US news | The Guardian

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