The plan to move many detainees housed at Guantanamo Bay to a mostly-vacant prison in Thomson, Illinois, was met with nods of approval
. Liberals were glad to see signs that President
Obama was acting on his campaign promise to shut down the Cuba-based detention
facility. But now
that plan has a snag that could mean keeping prisoners at
Guantanamo until 2011 or later. Administration officials
say that Congress has refused to secure $150 million to buy
the prison at Thomson, and that once they do it will take "8 to 10
months" to make the necessary alterations to the facility.
We Should Just Try Them Spencer Ackerman wonders why,
instead of bending over backwards to build a second Gitmo, we don't
just send the detainees to trial. "Well, if Thomson hits a snag, the
administration could just do what the
civil liberties community wants and either charge the detainees in
civilian courts or deport or release the ones it doesn’t have solid
evidence to charge. The federal jurisdictions where the detainees are
charged have the responsibility to detain and then imprison them
post-conviction. Problem solved. That is, if the administration wants
to solve the Guantanamo problem and not mutate it."
- An Emergency Work-Around? The New York Times's Charlie Savage reports, "Frustrated by the difficulties in obtaining financing from Congress, administration officials had discussed invoking a little-known statute
that would allow the president to declare a national emergency and then
use military funds allocated for other construction projects to buy and
retrofit the Illinois prison. That statute, however, has never
been used for a project quite like this one. Fearing that lawmakers
would be angered by such a move and could respond by erasing the
statute, the administration decided not to invoke it."
- Great Way To Shut Down Thomson Commentary's Jennifer Rubin praises the move. "Turns out that Congress stiffed the Obami on funds to convert Thomson Correctional Center
into the new, domestic Guantanamo," she writes. "Now they need to cut
off funds for KSM's trial." The planned New York City trial for
terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has drawn criticism from conservatives
- We Should Just Send Detainees Home Talk Left's Jeralyn thinks Congress rightly balked. "It's obvious Republicans oppose the plan, but some Democrats who
support closing Gitmo are uncomfortable with the idea that Obama may
hold people at Thomson indefinitely without charges.
The answer: Send them all home or to third countries, except for
those against whom criminal charges are filed. Trial here or release."
- We Can't Rush Gitmo Closing The American Prospect's Adam Serwer explains why. "Obviously
the administration should be working hard to close
Guantanamo. But the U.S. can't afford to simply wash its hands --
there's a substantial national security interest in making sure that
former detainees are treated humanely and are effectively reintegrated
into society wherever they end up." He explains the difficulty of
deporting detainees to Yemen, for example, which is the home of about
40% of Guantanamo detainees. "Human Rights Watch has consistently warned
that repatriated Yemenis often face involuntary detention or abuse upon
their return, and receive little support from the Yemeni government in
terms of job training, counseling, or medical care."
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