Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wire: Obama Defense Official Says Some Guantanamo Detainees Should Come to US

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

A federal judge ruled today that the U.S. can continue holding some terror suspects indefinitely without charges.

The director of the FBI said Guantanamo Bay detainees could support terrorism if released into the U.S.

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2009 -- Newswires reported today that a high-ranking Pentagon official said on Wednesday that closing the military detention camp at Guantanamo Bay is "easier said than done."

Michele Flournoy, Obama's new Pentagon policy chief, said members of Congress must rethink their opposition to accepting these detainees into the United States.

Flournoy said it is unrealistic to think that no detainees will come to the U.S., and that the U.S. cannot ask allies to take detainees while refusing to take on the same burden, Fox News reported.

Without singling anyone out, Flournoy said lawmakers need to think more "strategically."

But the Senate is poised to hand President Barack Obama a major setback by denying him money to shut down Guantanamo and block the transfer of detainees to the United States, according to the Associated Press.

AP noted the following details:
Last month, Obama asked for $80 million for the Pentagon and the Justice Department to close the facility, which has 240 detainees, by next January. In the eyes of the world, the prison has come to exemplify harsh U.S. anti-terror tactics and detention without trial for almost all of its inmates, most of whom were captured in Afghanistan.

The vote promises to be a sweeping rebuke of the administration, which put its Democratic allies in a difficult spot by requesting the Guantanamo closure money before developing a plan for what to do with its detainees.

Obama is scheduled to give a major address Thursday outlining in more detail his plans for Guantanamo, but it's already clear that Congress has little appetite for bringing detainees to U.S. soil, even if the inmates would be held in maximum-security prisons.

The Senate's move matches steps taken by the House and threatens the administration's plan to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by January.
The vote comes as FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress that he is concerned Guantanamo detainees could support terrorism if sent to the United States.

Separately, a federal judge said the United States can continue to hold some prisoners at Guantanamo indefinitely without any charges, AP noted.

This is a developing story with more to follow.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Obama Tries to Keep Order Among Democrats on Gitmo
Senate to block fund for Guantanamo closure

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