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White House Mulls Moving Gitmo Detainees to U.S.

BY Online DA  August 3, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

Guards lead a detainee at Guantanamo Bay detention facility; AP file photo

The plan would establish a maximum-security prison that would also contain courtrooms to hold both federal criminal trials and military commissions to prosecute terrorism suspects. The dual-use facility would be jointly run by the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, according to the report, and would be located at either a soon-to-be-closed state prison in Standish, Mich., or at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

The proposal is one of several under consideration by a White House task force charged with finding a solution to the legal hurdles, as well as public fears, surrounding President Obama’s order to close the Guantanamo Bay complex by Jan. 22, 2010. The administration has thus far cleared 50 Guantanamo Bay prisoners for release.

Although a final decision has yet to be made, “This is one of the ideas that’s been floated and come under discussion,” an administration official told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity.

Administration officials also told the Post that the plan would mitigate the security challenge of transferring detainees to multiple facilities across numerous jurisdictions.

Moving detainees to a facility in Michigan would carry the added benefit of creating public-works jobs in a state battered by the ongoing recession, officials also told the Post.

“If state and local officials are supportive, the senator believes the idea should be considered,” a spokeswoman for Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., told the Post.

Still, the proposal drew quick rebuke from several high-ranking Republicans in Congress.

“The administration is going to face a severe public backlash unless it shelves this plan and goes back to the drawing board,” a spokeswoman for House minority leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told the AP.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., also voiced his opposition. “It makes no sense to spend millions and millions of dollars to build what we already have at Guantanamo,” Brownback said in a statement.