Friday, July 10, 2009

Bring terrorists to US? Better than leaving Gitmo open, panel says.

In a letter to Congress Tuesday, 17 terrorism experts said America's super-maximum security prisons can handle detainees from Guantánamo.

By Alexandra Marks

With the deadline to close the Guantánamo Bay prison just six months away, Obama administration lawyers told Congress Tuesday they are still unsure about how they will deal with the remaining detainees there.

But a bipartisan group of leading homeland-security experts criticized congressional efforts to block to the administration from moving the Guantanamo detainees to the US as "unnecessary and harmful to our national security."

Currently, more than 200 detainees remain at the naval prison camp in Cuba. Congress and administration officials are currently debating whether they should be prosecuted in civilian or military courts, as well as where such trials should take place. Some in Congress object to bringing the detainees back to this country to stand trial and have blocked the administration from doing so during the 2009 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

The homeland-security experts sought to undercut this objection, saying in a letter to Congress Tuesday that closing Guantánamo would be a "net benefit to our counterterrorism efforts," and that doing so will require bringing some terrorists here for "trial, detention, or, if appropriate, resettlement."

"Guantánamo is so onerous to us from a foreign-policy standpoint that we've got to get rid of it," says Ronald Marks, a former senior CIA official and senior vice president of Oxford Analytica, an international consulting firm in Washington. He was one of 17 terrorism experts who signed the letter to Congress.

"The logical answer is to bring some of these guys to super-maximum security prisons here and keep them here for the rest of their lives," he says.

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