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WASHINGTON - The Pentagon Friday issued new ground rules for media coverage of the prison and
Still a secret world in Guantanamo
Obama admits he has 'fallen short' on Guantanamo while media to be less restricted on coverage.
trials at the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, creating an appeals process in the event of a dispute.
The new regulations come four months after the furor surrounding four American and Canadian journalists banned from covering the prison and trials after publishing the name of an interrogator testifying at a hearing.
Under the new measures, reporters can now publish information that has already been released by other media outlets, even if it is declared "protected information" by a Guantanamo military tribunal judge, the Pentagon said.
And while US defense officials relaxed some censorship on photographs of a prisoner or a guard, the Defense Department also said the authorities "may request two images per person per day be cropped to meet security requirements."
Photographers, however, can now appeal the censoring and will be due an answer on their demand within 24 hours.
Media workers can also have better access to prosecution and defense teams "at the discretion of the counsel," officials said, allowing them more access to a special press conference room.
Officials said they would ban alcohol consumption in the Guantanamo media operation center, calling it a "place to conduct business," but said a tent with "a large refrigerator, chairs and TV as a social area" will be a designated area for journalists to store alcohol.
If a journalist does not comply with the new regulations they risk being banned from the facility, but will now be notified in writing and be allowed a hearing, officials said.
Four reporters from the Miami Herald and three Canadian news organizations, the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and CanWest news service, were banned from the controversial facility in May.
They were accused of having violated a judge's request that they keep secret the identity of the witness whose identity had previously been reported by media outlets.
The Pentagon came under fire from rights groups after the action, with the American Civil Liberties Union calling the decision "rash, draconian and unconstitutional."
Obama admits he has 'fallen short' on Guantanamo
President Barack Obama acknowledged Friday his administration had "fallen short" in its aim to close the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as he again stated his intention to close the facility.
"It's not for lack of trying. It's because the politics of it are difficult," insisted Obama at a White House press conference.
"We have succeeded on delivering a lot of campaign promises that we made. One where we have fallen short is closing Guantanamo. I wanted to close it sooner. We have missed that deadline," he said, referring to the January 22, 2010 date set -- a year after he took office -- by when he had hoped to close the facility.
On the eve of the September 11, 2001 anniversary , Obama was asked of the fate of the remaining Guantanamo inmates including five men accused of having a hand in the devastating attacks on New York and Washington, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
"We should be able to lock them up and make sure that they don't see light of day. We can do that. We have done it before," Obama said, adding: "We've got people who engage in terrorist attacks who are in our prisons, maximum security prisons all across the country."
He also acknowledge, however, the issue of moving detainees from the prison to the US mainland had "generated a lot of political rhetoric" and said portions of the American public were "understandably... fearful."
"I've also said that there are going to be circumstances where a military tribunal may be appropriate," Obama added, saying any moves must be made on an agreement between Democrats and Republicans on how to prosecute detainees under the "standards of due process, consistent with our constitution."
One of the clearest reasons, Obama argued, for closing Guantanamo was Al-Qaeda continuing to cite the prison camp as a reason to attack the United States.
"There is no reason for us to give them that kind of talking point when, in fact, we can use the various mechanisms of our justice system to prosecute these folks, and to make sure that they never attack us again," he said.