WASHINGTON (AFP) – As part of its plans to close Guantanamo Bay, the Obama administration is considering holding some of the detainees indefinitely and without trial on US soil, US media reported Thursday.
President Barack Obama’s “administration is weighing plans to detain some terror suspects on US soil — indefinitely and without trial — as part of a plan to retool military commission trials that were conducted for prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay,” The Wall Street Journal said.
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The proposal, which is part of the administration’s internal deliberations on how to deal with the prisoners ahead of a planned closure of the controversial US military prison next year, is being shared with some lawmakers, it added.
White House officials contacted by AFP had no immediate comment on the detainee deliberations.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who met with White House Counsel Greg Craig this week about the Guantanamo plans, told the Journal that the administration was namely seeking authority for indefinite detentions granted by a national security court.
“This is a difficult question. How do you hold someone in prison without a trial indefinitely?” asked Graham, who, along with former Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain, has pressed for reinstating the military commissions to try Guantanamo detainees.
The Journal noted that “the idea of a new national security court has been discussed widely in legal circles,” including by Michael Mukasey, who served as attorney general under president George W. Bush and Neal Katyal, a Justice Department official serving under the Obama administration.
US officials told AFP that Obama is set to announce this week that he is reviving the military trials for terror suspects held at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, in southern Cuba.
But Obama, who sharply criticized the use of military commissions to try extremists under Bush, may ask lawmakers to expand legal protections for detainees, the officials said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is set to take up legislation Thursday granting Obama’s request for 80 million dollars to shutter the facility by January 22, 2010 — but attaching strict conditions, among them forbidding the use of new money to ship any detainees to the United States.
Thu May 14, 6:54 am ET