Obama Plans Guantanamo Closure
Though Obama's plans are not finalized, he has pledged to close Guantanamo (as a "top priority") and wishes to transfer detainees to the US to face criminal trials and get away from the military commissions process in Guantanamo. HOWEVER, there is talk amongst his advisers about possibly creating a new court system for detainees whose cases involve highly classified information, which has drawn sharp criticism from detainee lawyers, who believe that the creation of a new system is not the answer and could lead into territory as dangerous as the current "new creation" of the military commissions courts. Plans are still in-process, however, so we'll see what evolves from this!
Obama plans Guantanamo closure, US terror trials
By MATT APUZZO and LARA JAKES JORDAN
WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Obama's advisers are quietly crafting a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to face criminal trials, a plan that would make good on his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison but could require creation of a controversial new system of justice.
During his campaign, Obama described Guantanamo as a "sad chapter in American history" and has said generally that the U.S. legal system is equipped to handle the detainees. But he has offered few details on what he planned to do once the facility is closed.
Under plans being put together in Obama's camp, some detainees would be released and many others would be prosecuted in U.S. criminal courts.
A third group of detainees — the ones whose cases are most entangled in highly classified information — might have to go before a new court designed especially to handle sensitive national security cases, according to advisers and Democrats involved in the talks. Advisers participating directly in the planning spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans aren't final.
The move would be a sharp deviation from the Bush administration, which established military tribunals to prosecute detainees at the Navy base in Cuba and strongly opposes bringing prisoners to the United States. Obama's Republican challenger, John McCain, had also pledged to close Guantanamo. But McCain opposed criminal trials, saying the Bush administration's tribunals should continue on U.S. soil.
The plan being developed by Obama's team has been championed by legal scholars from both political parties. But it is almost certain to face opposition from Republicans who oppose bringing terrorism suspects to the U.S. and from Democrats who oppose creating a new court system with fewer rights for detainees.
The plan drew criticism from some detainee lawyers shortly after it surfaced Monday.
"I think that creating a new alternative court system in response to the abject failure of Guantanamo would be a profound mistake," said Jonathan Hafetz, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represents detainees. "We do not need a new court system. The last eight years are a testament to the problems of trying to create new systems."