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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Holder says Guantanamo may not close by January deadline
Jaclyn Belczyk at 11:18 AM ET

[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] told reporters Tuesday that the Obama administration may miss its January deadline for closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. Holder said that is concerned [AP report] with US lawmakers' claims that detainees are too dangerous to be housed on US soil. On Tuesday, the US Senate passed a defense spending bill [HR 3326 materials] that prohibits the Obama administration from transferring detainees to the US. That bill must now be reconciled with a similar bill passed by the US House of Representatives. Last week, the House approved a non-binding motion to instruct conferees [CSPAN backgrounder] to prohibit the transfer [JURIST report] of Guantanamo detainees to the US for any reason, including prosecution and incarceration. Holder said that despite the difficulties in transferring detainees, the administration is committed [LAT report] to closing the prison as soon as possible.

Holder's statements echo those of other top administration officials who said last month that the January deadline may be missed [JURIST report]. 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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