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U.S. Lawmakers Vote to Restrict Gitmo Transfers

The U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday to restrict the transfer to the United States of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility for suspected terrorists.

"A US Army soldier walks through a cell block at Camp Delta at Guantanamo Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba, in 2004.The US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday to restrict the transfer to the United States of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility for suspected terrorists."

The panel voted 61-0 for legislation covering the Defense Department's budget for the 2010 fiscal year that starts October 1 -- 550.4 billion dollars -- but no money for moving Guantanamo Bay detainees to U.S. soil.

And it includes language restricting any such efforts, which could be crucial if President Barack Obama is to meet his self-imposed timetable for closing the facility by January 22, 2010.

"Detainees are prohibited from being transferred without the president first presenting a plan on what danger the detainees pose to the U.S., its territories, and possessions, how the president plans to mitigate this risk and what will happen to individual detainees" according to a summary of the bill.

"The president must consult with state governors, the Mayor of DC (the nation's capital), or the chief executives of the territories or possessions on the proposed transfers to their localities," it said.

"US President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC."

The spending bill, which requires approval by the full House and the Senate before it can go to Obama, also includes about 130 billion dollars for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In early June, another House panel approved the U.S. Justice Department's 2010 64.4 billion dollar budget without including any monies for closing Guantanamo Bay and imposing similar restrictions.

And an emergency spending measure to cover Obama's new strategy in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and aid Pakistan also did not include the president's request for money to close the facility.

But that measure, which the House approved late Tuesday, allows the administration to transfer detainees to U.S. soil to face trial.

"A US Army soldier on a guard tower at maximum security prison Camp Delta, at Guantanamo Naval Base in 2004. The US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday to restrict the transfer to the United States of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility for suspected terrorists."

On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he thought the United States would be able to find countries willing to take in the roughly 50 detainees who have already been cleared for release.

"I think that by sharing information about who these people are, responding to the questions that are posed by our allies who might be recipients of these people, that we can come up with a way in which we can assure them that they will not pose a danger to their countries, will not pose a danger to us," he said.

"And I think that we're going to be successful in placing these people," said Holder.