Updated and bumped:
After reports were published yesterday of a meeting today at the White House to consider the closing of Guantanamo prison, the White House decided to cancel the meeting.
Two administration officials said last night that a meeting about several topics is scheduled for today but that the Guantanamo issue was removed from the agenda after news of the meeting broke.
Still, officials said the discussions are not yet at a decision point because too many issues remain unresolved. Justice officials have argued against moving Guantanamo detainees to the United States because it would immediately grant the alleged terrorists habeas corpus rights, which would launch another round of legal battles in U.S. federal courts. Homeland Security officials have opposed such a move because it would mean bringing some of the people on the nation's terror watch list -- including the highest-level detainees the U.S. has in its custody, such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed -- inside U.S. borders. Cheney's office also has vehemently opposed bringing the detainees into this country.
The move toward closing the facility is rooted in part in the international outrage its existence has provoked, drawing criticism from international human rights groups, legal advocacy organizations and governments which can point to the indefinite detentions there as an example of U.S. hypocrisy about legal rights. Years-old allegations of abuse and severe interrogation tactics have soured the facility's reputation, and despite the military's efforts to make it an example of humane detention, four suicides in the past year have drawn negative attention and publicity.
Original report: Published Jun 21, 07 06:43 PM
White House May Finally Close Gitmo
Or at least that's what the Associated Press is reporting:
President Bush's national security and legal advisers are expected to discuss the move at the White House on Friday and, for the first time, it appears a consensus is developing, senior administration officials said Thursday.
The advisers will consider a proposal to shut the center and transfer detainees to one or more Defense Department facilities, including the maximum security military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where they could face trial, said the officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal deliberations.
Officials familiar with the agenda of the Friday meeting said Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Peter Pace were expected to attend.[...]
Previous plans to close Guantanamo have run into resistance from Cheney, Gonzales and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But officials said the new suggestion is gaining momentum with at least tacit support from the State and Homeland Security departments, the Pentagon, and the Intelligence directorate.
Cheney's office and the Justice Department have been dead set against the step, arguing that moving "unlawful" enemy combatant suspects to the U.S. would give them undeserved legal rights.
They could still block the proposal, but pressure to close Guantanamo has been building since a Supreme Court decision last year that found a previous system for prosecuting enemy combatants illegal. Recent rulings by military judges threw out charges against two terrorism suspects under a new tribunal scheme.
Those decisions have dealt a blow to the administration's efforts to begin prosecuting dozens of Guantanamo detainees regarded as the nation's most dangerous terror suspects.
In Congress, recently introduced legislation would require Guantanamo's closure. One measure would designate Fort Leavenworth as the new detention facility.
It's been along time coming, and if it happens then congratulations are in order for everyone who has spoken up, out, and against the Bush administration's horrendous atrocities and assault our Constitution via their Gitmo policies.
The administration will gain a few points if they come to this conclusion on their own rather than having Congress force them to do it, but it's telling that there is still some doubt that Bush can overcome Cheney's objections. Even after the Supreme Court has ruled Cheney is still a holdout? That's incredible.
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