Call for indefinite detention of Gitmo inmates draws protests

The American Civil Liberties Union criticized on Jan. 23 a US Justice Department recommendation that 47 Guantánamo Bay inmates should be held indefinitely without trial. Department officials said the men were too dangerous to release, but could not be tried due to insufficient evidence. ACLU director Anthony Romero said their detention would reduce the camp’s closure to a “symbolic gesture.” (BBC News, Jan. 23)

The recommendation came as part of the findings of a presidential task force, which also urged that 35 Guantánamo detainees face trial or military commissions. Officials said that the proceedings for these detainees will most likely be carried out on US soil. The 35 named in the task force report include five detainees that are already scheduled to be tried in New York for the 9-11 attacks and six detainees who have been chosen to face military tribunals. Including those to be held without charge, the total number of detainees potentially slated for transfer to the US could reach 80. It is anticipated that at least some of these detainees will be held at Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois, which the Obama administration announced in December it plans to buy. (Jurist, Jan. 22)

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  1. House deals blow to Gitmo transfer plan
    The US House Armed Services Committee on May 19 approved a bill prohibiting the Obama administration from modifying or building a facility in the US to hold detainees currently held at Guantánamo Bay. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 provides the Department of Defense with $567 billion, but requires that any plan to construct or modify US facilities to accommodate Guantánamo transfers be “accompanied by a thorough and comprehensive plan that outlines the merits, costs, and risks associated with utilizing such a facility.” As the Obama administration has not presented such a plan to Congress, the bill prohibits the use of any funds for the purpose of preparing a US facility for Guantánamo transfers.

    The bill also requires that the President submit a “comprehensive disposition plan and risk assessment” prior to transferring any detainees to the US, which Congress would have 120 days to review, and that the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress that countries accepting Guantanamo transfers meet “strict security criteria.” In response to the vote, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said that his state still plans to sell the Thomson Correctional Center to the federal government, despite a conflict between the provisions of the pending authorization act and a plan to use the facility to house Guantánamo detainees. (Jurist, May 22)