WASHINGTON — As President Barack Obama neared his self-imposed deadline to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Justice Department offices of the terrorist detention task force were bustling with construction workers tearing apart the walls, ripping out any trace of the secretive work, though Obama's goal is still far off.
The staffers of the Guantanamo legal task force were gone, having completed recommendations for all of the 196 remaining detainees awaiting transfer, trial or further detention.
Attorney General Eric Holder has reviewed the bulk of those recommendations and decided that the most feared detainee — the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — and four henchmen should face trial in New York.
For all that work, the Obama administration is still struggling to find the political muscle, diplomatic dexterity and cash from Congress to implement those tough, often unpopular decisions about the remaining detainees.
As one of his very first acts as president, Obama signed an executive order to close the military prison for terror suspects within a year. The one-year mark arrives today, and he will miss it by a wide margin.