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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Guantanamo closure deadline may be missed: top US officials
Andrew Morgan at 3:17 PM ET

[JURIST] The Obama administration may not be able to meet the January deadline set early this year for the closure of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], senior administration officials said Friday. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officials told AP, the Washington Post, CNN [reports] and other media outlets that the difficulty in finding host countries for detainees who can be released and domestic facilities to hold prisoners who won't be released is unlikely to be resolved by January. The Washington Post reports that White House Counsel Gregory Craig - already an object of criticism [WSJ report] on this and other issues - has been relieved of his responsibility for overseeing the closure of the detention center. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) [official website] said that he would continue to oppose [FOX report] the closure "until there is a plan that keeps Americans as safe or safer than keeping detainees in the secure detention center." Meanwhile, Marine Major General Michael Lehnert [official profile], who oversaw the construction and initial operations at Guantanamo Bay, has said he supports closing the facility [AP report] as soon as practicable but rejected proposals to send detainees to domestic military installations.

Earlier this week, the Obama administration said that it will not push Congress [JURIST report] for legislation to authorize the indefinite detention of terror suspects, but will rely on its existing authority. In early September, US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] general counsel Jeh Johnson [official profile] said that the administration remains committed [JURIST report] to closing the military detention facility by early next year. Officials are reportedly still considering creating a military-civilian prison facility that would house its own court at a site in Michigan, but local residents have strongly opposed [JURIST reports] the plan. Officials are also considering trying detainees in federal courts, with cases assigned to federal prosecutors [JURIST report] last month.

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