US terror policy report delayed

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A key report on the detention of terrorism suspects ordered by US President Barack Obama will be delayed by six months, officials have said.
Mr Obama commissioned the report as part of his efforts to close the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay by the beginning of next year.
Analysts say this delay raises doubts about his ability to meet the deadline.
Officials attributed it to the need to ensure the review was comprehensive and to consult thoroughly with Congress.
They said another report on the interrogation of suspects and their transfer to other countries would be delayed by two months.
However, a task force did send an interim report setting out legal goals for handling terrorism suspects in the future.
Detention Policy Task Force preliminary report (1.29Mb) Most computers will open PDF documents automatically, but you might need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
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"Where appropriate, prosecution of those responsible must occur as soon as possible, whether in federal court or before a military commission," the interim report said.
It also said justice could not prevail unless suspects were proved guilty "in a court of law that affords them a full and fair opportunity to contest the charges against them".
'Get this right'
The reports were ordered in the wake of Mr Obama's announcement that he would close the Guantanamo Bay prison by 22 January 2010. Administration officials say that this deadline still holds.
But, reports the BBC's Jane O'Brien in Washington, there are still a number of major problems - what to do with the remaining detainees being the biggest.
Fewer than 20 out of about 245 inmates have been transferred from the detention centre in the six months since Mr Obama signed an order to close it within a year, the Associated Press news agency reports.
We want to get this right and not to have another multiple years of uncertainty around these issues
Unnamed Obama administration official
Closure easier said than done
Q&A: Closing Guantanamo
More than 50 inmates have been cleared for transfer overseas. Mr Obama has said others will be tried by modified military commissions or in US courts.
But some cannot be returned to their home countries because of concern they will be tortured - and finding countries prepared to take them has proved difficult.
There is also the question of those who cannot be prosecuted under existing legal structures, yet who are deemed too dangerous for release.
The administration is open to the possibility of indefinitely holding these detainees, but says it needs a new legal system to authorise this.
In Washington lawmakers from both parties have opposed the idea of transferring detainees to US soil.
Congress has asked the administration for a detailed plan on how Guantanamo will be shut before it releases funds for its closure.
Administration officials said delays over submitting reports were granted to conduct reviews that were as thorough as possible.
One unnamed official was quoted as saying the administration wanted to present a plan with "legal foundation".
"We want to get this right and not to have another multiple years of uncertainty around these issues," the official said.
The Guantanamo Bay detention centre was set up in January 2002 to hold suspects deemed to be "enemy combatants".
Human rights groups and some foreign governments have long criticised the prison.


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