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News Wrap: Plan to Close Gitmo Hits New Delays

December 23, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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In other news, President Obama's plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay has run into new hurdles, and the State Department said in a report that U.S. efforts to stop the opium trade in Afghanistan is failing.


President Obama’s plan to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has run into new delays. The New York Times and others reported today, the site for terror detainees may not close until 2011, at the earliest. It could be April before Congress approves money to buy a state prison in Illinois.

And it will take more months to upgrade the prison. The president originally wanted Guantanamo closed within his first year in office.

The U.S. anti-drug effort in Afghanistan is failing. That verdict came today from the State Department’s inspector general. His report said the nearly $2 billion program suffers from poor oversight and rampant corruption among Afghan officials. Also today, there was word a British soldier died Tuesday in Helmand Province in a roadside bombing.

New violence erupted in Iran today. Security forces confronted supporters of the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, the country’s most senior dissident cleric.

We have more from Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: These photographs of Iranian riot police in Isfahan appeared on the Facebook Web site today, as opposition groups claimed many protesters were injured and arrested during clashes involving batons and tear gas, while Iran’s police chief warned of fierce confrontation unless the protests stop.

In Isfahan, one protester dared to film this rally using a mobile phone. “Death to Russia,” the crowd shouted, a reverse of the usual “Death to America,” and a roundabout way of shouting down the Iranian regime itself.

In the capital, Tehran, though, students were far more blunt. “Death to the dictator” was their rallying cry in pictures posted on YouTube today.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Iran’s state news agency denied the reports of clashes. Instead, it accused the foreign news media of staging a psychological war.

A major storm moved over the middle of the country today, promising heavy holiday snow. A foot or two was possible in Kansas, Colorado, and elsewhere by Christmas Day. Flight delays were already fouling travel plans, with more cancellations expected tomorrow. Sleet and freezing rain began icing roadways. The National Weather Service warned, conditions could be life-threatening.

U.S. safety investigators headed to Jamaica today, after an American Airlines plane overshot a runway while trying to land. The jetliner skidded across the rain-soaked tarmac into the grass last night. It stopped less than 15 feet from the Caribbean Sea, and the fuselage cracked apart. More than 40 people were hurt.

The Colorado parents in the balloon boy hoax are going to jail. The father, Richard Heene, was sentenced today to 90 days, partly on work release. The mother, Mayumi, will serve 20 days once her husband’s sentence is finished.

Last October, they claimed their 6-year-old son had been carried away on a weather balloon. He was eventually found back at the family home. Prosecutors said the Heenes had wanted a reality TV show.

Wall Street had an up-and-down day. The Dow Jones industrial average ended by gaining one point, to close at 10466. The Nasdaq rose nearly 17 points, to finish at 2269.

Those are some of the day’s main stories. I will be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you will find on tonight’s “NewsHour” Web site — but, for now, back to Gwen.