International Law

Bush Aides Plan to Close Gitmo Prison


Public, legislative and judicial pressure to end the extraordinary detention of so-called enemy combatants and others suspected of links to al-Qaeda terrorists at a U.S. Navy prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, apparently may be having an effect on the White House.

Top aides to President George W. Bush are making plans to close the prison and move detainees to military prisons elsewhere, and will discuss the issue at a meeting tomorrow, AP reports. Although it is not clear whether the meeting will result in a final recommendation to the president, sources tell AP that officials including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, other cabinet members and military leaders will attend.

Closing the prison has previously been opposed by Cheney, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, but the idea is gaining momentum and is now at least tacitly supported by the current defense secretary, the Pentagon and the State and Homeland Security departments, among others.

Legislation now before Congress would require the prison to close, and a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan (PDF) said Bush had exceeded his power as chief executive and violated international law by holding detainees indefinitely at Gitmo without adequate judicial review of their cases, as the Washington Post discusses in this June 30 article.

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