Thursday, March 08, 2007


Democrats Want Gitmo Prisoners Sent to U.S.





Politico - Key House Democrats plan to insist the Pentagon shut down the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and are contemplating the relocation of many of the 385 or so remaining terrorist suspects to military brigs along the East Coast -- including Quantico, Va., and Charleston, S.C.

"It sets us back in the war on terrorism to be maintaining Guantanamo," said Rep. Jim Moran (AQA-Va.), who's heading an investigation of the facility for the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

"It will enhance our reputation to close it down and to apply our system of justice to all of these detainees," he added.

After two trips to Guantanamo, Moran told The Politico that he's recommending Congress cut funding to the detention center at the end of summer 2008. The men held there should then be released, tried or moved to the United States, he said.

A Democratic official involved in developing the Guantanamo strategy said the Democrats, who control the new Congress, expect Republicans to object to bringing the detainees onto U.S. soil because their attorneys would surely argue they were entitled to myriad new rights.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Democrats are planning hearings in April or May to "build a record" that closing Guantanamo would be beneficial and that it would be legal, as well as logistically feasible, to bring its detainees to the United States. The hearings would start with panels of lawyers, some of whom are convinced the plan is workable and some of whom represent detainees now at Guantanamo.

And to make the measure more palatable to Republicans, Moran said he would suggest the detainees be transferred to military bases that would allow them to be tried in federal courts under the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Republicans certainly could not consider that a mollycoddling, liberal bastion," Moran said. "The 4th Circuit is as conservative as you get. But the whole world would see that the United States stands for the rule of law. And I think the high-value targets would be shown to be people who undoubtedly should be detained and prosecuted.

"But you've got to distinguish among these people," he said. "We have to prove they actually did something that was designed to hurt American citizens."

A senior administration official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he was puzzled by the Democrats' frequent discussion of closing Guantanamo.

"While we want to bring these guys to trial as quickly as possible, where do Democrats believe we should keep Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 plot?" the official asked. "Which American city will they choose to place America's most wanted terrorists?"