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White House mulling closure of Guantanamo detention facilities: AP

[JURIST] The White House is considering the closure of detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] and the transfer of the estimated 385 detainees currently held there to other military detention facilities, AP reported Thursday. Three senior Bush administration officials told AP they believe a consensus has been building within the executive branch, saying that the proposal has "at least tacit support" from the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the intelligence community. Vice President Dick Cheney and the Department of Justice are believed to be the major opposition to the proposed closure, fearing that the transfer of detainees [JURIST news archive] to other jurisdictions could give them more significant legal rights. The officials said that a meeting on the issue was scheduled for Friday, although National Security Council spokesperson Gordan Johndroe later said that the meeting has been moved to a later date [NBC report].

The detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay were established in 2002 as part of a deliberate effort to detain "enemy combatants" [JURIST news archive] outside of the US or another state's legal jurisdiction. The Guantanamo Bay Naval Base [official website] is under an indefinite lease with Cuba and is not subject to any Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] that customarily define the legal status of individual and property within US military bases hosted on foreign territories. Cuba and the US also do not maintain formal diplomatic relations. Many foreign governments, including the UK [JURIST report], and prominent current and former US officials have urged the closure of Guantanamo. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell recently criticized the facilities [JURIST report], saying that Guantanamo is a stain on United States' creditability and reputation as a global leader. The US House of Representatives passed an amendment to a defense spending bill last month which would require the Pentagon to develop a Guantanamo shutdown plan [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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