McConnell: Obama Should 'Rethink' Gitmo Closing

Monday, 20 Apr 2009 04:19 PM

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President Barack Obama must "rethink" plans to close the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison before he crafts a plan for where to put its roughly 240 detainees, a top US lawmaker said Monday.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell charged that Obama's order to close the facility by January 2010 aims "to mollify critics overseas" but lacks a clear approach for what to do with the prisoners.

"When it comes to Guantanamo, the administration doesn't seem to have any plan at all for dealing with men whom many consider to be the most dangerous terrorists alive," he said in a speech.

"In the days ahead, Republicans will remind the American people about the dangers of closing Guantanamo without a safe alternative -- and prod the administration to rethink its strategy," said McConnell.

US lawmakers will likely focus on the matter as they debate an emergency spending bill of 83.4 billion dollars, mostly for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, that includes up to 80 million dollars for Guantanamo Bay's closure.

The measure includes about 50 million for the relocation and possible prosecution of detainees, and another 30 million for the US Justice Department to review how to close the facility and manage possible litigation.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that closing the camp, a target for fierce criticisms of the "global war on terrorism," was his most "most daunting challenge."

Holder said some of the detainees would likely be found not to pose a threat to the United States and could be released or transferred to the custody of other countries, while others may be prosecuted in federal court.

But Holder envisioned a third category: detainees too dangerous to release but with insurmountable obstacles to their prosecution in US courts.

Copyright AFP 2008, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium

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