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July 7th, 2009 - Officials: Fate of Guantanamo Detainees Uncertain

News article from the Associated Press

Profile of the Guantánamo Concentration Camp

Officials: Fate of Guantanamo Detainees Uncertain


By Lara Jakes

Associated Press

July 7, 2009


Washington - Obama administration lawyers acknowledged Tuesday they are uncertain how they will prosecute and deal with more than 200 detainees being held in the Guantanamo Bay prison.


With just over six months to go on President Barack Obama's commitment to shut down the U.S. Navy's prison camp in Cuba, administration officials told the Senate Armed Services Committee it's far from clear how many detainees will face court trial, or where.


The dilemma is at the heart of the debate over the future of the remaining Guantanamo detainees and what legal rights they will have as their cases go forward under military and civilian justice systems.


Wary of the prospect of terror suspects and foreign fighters imprisoned in their local communities, Congress has blocked funding for transferring any Guantanamo detainees into the United States for the 2009 fiscal year ending Sept. 30.


There are 229 detainees at Guantanamo.


"If they're going to have all kinds of different rights if they're tried in the United States instead of Guantanamo, I think the American people should know that," said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the panel. McCain, like Obama, had previously called for Guantanamo's closure.


Pentagon and Justice Department attorneys said detainees who are moved into U.S.-based courts would all but certainly seek stronger rights - but they would not get full legal protections that the Constitution guarantees American citizens.


"We're not suggesting that the full range of constitutional rights would apply depending on location," said Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon's general counsel.


Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press.


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