He was fulfilling an election promise but, like many politicians before and after him, he failed to make it happen. Seven years on, the controversial military prison remains open.
But one of Obama’s most admirable qualities is his persistence. He showed it with health reform and now he is making one final attempt to persuade Congress to close Guantanamo, despite strong opposition from legislators who do not want detainees transferred to the United States.
Let us hope he succeeds. Apart from well documented cases of torture there, the very existence of Guantanamo is a shame and a stain on the human rights record of the United States. Many detainees have been held for more than a decade without trial, something that breaches every human rights convention and would not be tolerated on US soil.
If Obama succeeds in his last big venture he will have done the state – and the free world – some service.