In the first flush of presidency, Mr Barack Obama has hit the right note by quashing the pleas of senior US intelligence officials and ordering the closure of Guantanamo Bay, a detention centre which has earned America a black mark of the highest order, within a year. He has barred the CIA from savage treatment of terrorism suspects held there and ordered it to close "as expeditiously as possible" any secret detention facilities overseas and begin straight away compliance with common Article 3 of the Geneva conventions, which prohibits humiliating and degrading treatment of prisoners. Obama's order envisages the creation of an interagency panel which will review the status of all 240 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and seek to transfer as many as possible to third countries that will agree to take them. If transfer is not approved, a second review will determine whether prosecution is possible and at what forum. If any of the remaining inmates cannot be transferred or prosecuted, then the review co-ordinated by the attorney general and the defence secretary will look at lawful ways of dealing with them. The detention camp is a operated by Joint Task Force Guantanamo since 2001 in the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which is on the shore of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It has become a symbol of the excesses in the War On Terror waged by former President George W Bush. It represents all that is wrong with the US policy and why Americans today are perceived as enemies by Muslims in many places. Persons from Pakistan and other countries incarcerated in the prison have recounted horrible accounts of the torture they have gone through. Sleep deprivation, keeping room temperatures uncomfortably high or low, food deprivation and other techniques designed to inflict maximum psychological damage, have all been a part of this. According to some accounts, the prisoners were incarcerated in underground cells and their knees and back given electric shocks. To crown it all, the US interrogation techniques including "waterboarding or simulated drowning." It was according to August 1, 2002 Legal memo written by conservative lawyers at the Justice Department that the CIA was given carte blanche to use a wide variety of unorthodox techniques including waterboarding against Al-Qaeda suspects. Children aged under 18 years have been among those held at Guantanamo. In reaction to this, there have been hunger strikes and other protests by desperate prisoners. There have been paroxysms of anger everywhere against the atrocities and brutalities carried out at the jail - from the side of activists, international agencies and various governments. More than 800 men and teenagers have passed through Guantanamo since it was opened on January 11, 2002 and about 240 remain there, most having languished for years without ever being charged. The prisoners are all what Bush had termed as "enemy combatants"; men whom former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld described as "the worst of the worst." Obama's valiant step to close Guantanamo has sent positive signals to the world and so it has been widely hailed at various fora. People of all hues and stripes have regarded this as extremely encouraging as it depicts a clean break with the vicious policies of Bush era. The UN special rapporteur on torture has welcomed the decision. This has also gone down well with the Muslim World and may be taken as a token gesture of Obama's commitment to forge a new relationship with the Muslim community. However, some segments of the population across the world have ripped Obama apart for taking one year to close the Guantanamo. They are of the viewpoint that it only took days to put these men in Guantanamo, so it should not take a year to get them out. Now if we go through the situation with a fine-toothed comb, it comes out that there is more to it than meets the eye. Obama's closure of Guantanamo Bay opens up many questions that even the White House officials admit are "very complicated and difficult to answer." How this order will get implemented? All this is still up in the air and there are many legal ambiguities in this regard. How the newly directed interagency panel will review the status of the cases of prisoners in default of comprehensive case files? The information available is highly sketchy and in utter disarray and so the panel will find it doubly difficult to arrive at the conclusion that whether a particular prisoner should be released or tried. Another issue is that in most cases, the confessions have been obtained under coercion. Whether these ill-founded confessions will be used as a basis for trial or not? Whether the trials henceforth will be made in a transparent manner or not? Which courts, civilian or military, will examine the cases involving highly sensitive classified evidence? The clause of Obama's order directing the transfer of prisoners to third countries will face many roadblocks as some governments have denied the Guantanamo prisoners are in fact their citizens, while others have been reluctant to agree to US requests to imprison or monitor returnees. And if some prisoners are transferred, how can the US ensure that other governments would not torture them. And where the detainees, which are not transferred to third countries or released, will go? Whether they will be transferred to the US mainland and if so is the case, whether they would have the same rights as other American prisoners? The problem has got compounded also because Obama's plan has got a kick in the teeth with an American judge's refusal to comply with his order of suspending investigation of Guantanamo prisoners right away. All this is bound to become a subject of controversy in the days to come. The writer is a foreign affairs analyst E-mail: irfanasghar99@yahoo.com