WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration is nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and move the terror suspects there to military prisons elsewhere, The Associated Press has learned.
Senior administration officials said Thursday a consensus is building for 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, Kan., where they could face trial.
President Bush's national security and legal advisers had been scheduled to discuss the move at a meeting Friday, the officials said, but after news of it broke, the White House said the meeting would not take place that day and no decision on Guantanamo Bay's status is imminent.
"It's no longer on the schedule for tomorrow," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council. "Senior officials have met on the issue in the past, and I expect they will meet on the issue in the future."
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.
Yes, moving the detainees onto US soil would certainly complicate things for those who just want to keep them locked up while throwing away the key. But if Gitmo is shut down, at least Cheney's Halliburton/KBR buddies will be thankful that they got to build a new facility there to the tune of $30 million that opened just last year - a place that will hopefully be developing cobwebs sometime soon while the war profiteers count their gold.
Let's review some facts about Gitmo from that 2006 article:
An investigation earlier this year by New Jersey's Seton Hall University showed that, based on the military's own documents, 55 per cent of prisoners are not alleged to have committed any hostile acts against the US, and 40 per cent are not accused of affiliation with al-Qa'ida.
The same documents suggested only 8 per cent of prisoners are accused of fighting for a terrorist group, and that 86 per cent were captured by the Northern Alliance or Pakistani authorities "at a time when the US offered large bounties for the capture of suspected terrorists".
And the usual bluster from Commander Guy™:
Speaking in the Rose Garden in June following the suicide of three prisoners, Mr Bush said: "I'd like to close Guantanamo, but I also recognise that we're holding some people that are darn dangerous, and that we better have a plan to deal with them in our courts."
Well, he had a plan. It was rejected by the Supremes. Congress came up with another one. That one was thrown out the window recently too. So here we are. Detainees stuck in a hellish limbo with no legal way to try them - very few of which are probably actually guilty of something. Even Bush has had to admit that with his catch and release program over the last 6 years.
Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.
And it's about damn time, oops "darn" time, that those detainees (kidnap victims stuck in the middle of nowhere whom the US government admitted torturing) saw something that resembles proper justice - a concept quite unfamiliar to the Bush administration - no matter what Darth Cheney and Abu Gonzales think.
Related: Sidney Blumenthal's "Imperial presidency declared null and void"