Washington (CNN) - Some terrorism suspects held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be moved to an Illinois prison that the federal government will buy to hold them, the Obama administration announced Tuesday.
Fewer than 100 Guantanamo detainees would come to the maximum-security Thomas Correctional Center, 150 miles west of Chicago, said Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. Republican Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois put the figure at 70.
The federal government will buy the prison and enhance one section of it to make it exceed perimeter security standards at the nation's only "supermax" prison in Colorado, according to a letter to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair.
About 215 detainees are held at the controversial U.S. detention facility in Cuba, and finding a place to move some of the detainees was crucial to government plans to close it.
By closing Guantanamo, "we are removing from terrorist organizations around the world the recruiting tool" the detention center symbolizes, said retired Marine Gen. James Jones, the national security adviser to President Obama.
Washington (CNN) – A limited number of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison will be transferred to a prison in Illinois, President Obama will announce Tuesday, a senior administration official said.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Sen. Richard Durbin will go to the White House on Tuesday for a briefing on the plan to use Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois, to help shut down the controversial facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Illinois state officials have said the plan would call for housing federal prisoners, including some detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in the largely vacant maximum-security facility in northern Illinois.
The governor and other officials have said such a deal could provide up to 2,000 jobs and up to $1 billion in federal money to the area.
Washington (CNN) - The official in charge of closing the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center has resigned, the Pentagon said Wednesday.
Phillip Carter had submitted his resignation letter on Friday, after just under seven months in the post, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.
Morrell said Carter's move was prompted by personal and family reasons.
The Obama administration has vowed to close the Guantanamo facility, but acknowledges it is unlikely to happen by its self-imposed deadline of January 22, 2010.
About 215 men are held there. They include alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who, officials said on November 13, will be transferred to New York to go on trial in civilian court.
Carter, a lawyer and Army veteran, joined the administration April 27 after writing briefs in two key Supreme Court cases related to detainee policy.
His title was deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee policy.
–CNN Pentagon Producer Mike Mount contributed to this report.
Washington (CNN) – Attorney General Eric Holder defended his decision Wednesday to try five suspected 9/11 terrorists in civilian court.
"We are at war and we will use every instrument of national power - civilian, military, law enforcement, intelligence, diplomatic and others –to win," he told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We need not cower in the face of this enemy. Our institutions are strong."
Holder announced last week that the suspected terrorists - including confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - will be tried in civilian court in New York City.
All five suspects have been held in the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Critics of Holder's decision have argued that the suspects should be tried by a military tribunal.
(CNN) – With the clock ticking down to the Obama administration’s self-imposed deadline for closing the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said the White House believes it will come close to the original deadline but may not exactly make the one-year deadline.
Announcing on January 22 of this year that “Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now,” Obama himself committed the new administration to closing the controversial facility by late January 2010. Since then, the administration has confronted complex legal issues over what to do with the approximately 200 terror suspects still detained at Guantanamo, which has made the deadline increasingly unattainable.
But, in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Axelrod said the administration will come close.
“We believe we’re going to substantially meet the deadline,” Axelrod told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “We may not hit it on the date but we will close Guantanamo and we’re making good progress toward doing it.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Pentagon will offer the H1N1 vaccination to detainees at the U.S. facility at Guantanamo Bay, officials there said Friday.
The Pentagon made the decision based on U.S. government assessments that people held in detention facilities are at high risk for the pandemic, said Maj. Diana R. Haynie, a spokeswoman for Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, which is in charge of holding the suspected terrorists.
"Detainees at JTF Guantanamo are considered to be at higher risk and therefore they will be offered the H1N1 vaccination," Haynie said.
"JTF Guantanamo conducts safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of detainees. As such, we must provide detainees the medical care necessary to maintain their health," she said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A coalition of retired generals and liberal activists joined forces Tuesday launching a $100,000 ad campaign - and multi-million dollar national grassroots effort - aimed at pressuring members of Congress to support President Obama's endeavor to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
The 30-second spot, called "Close Gitmo Now," hit the airwaves Tuesday on network and cable television nationwide. It accuses Congress of being complacent in continuing policies from the Bush-Cheney administration.
"We want torture ended and we want to build the political base of support for those members of Congress who are willing to stand up," John Soltz, who heads the liberal veterans group VoteVets.org, told reporters on a conference-call Tuesday.
The "Campaign to Close Guantanamo," spearheaded by former Maine Rep. Tom Andrews, said they plan to move forward by targeting specific congressional districts in an attempt to restrain American's apprehension and possible fear of closing the prison. They did not say which districts they may focus on.
Update 7:43 p.m.: The Board of Directors of Keep America Safe, a conservative group focused on foreign policy issues, has responded in a statement to the new ad. "Guantanamo Bay is a secure, safe, humane facility where terrorists can be held, and when appropriate, tried. Americans expect their President to defend them from terrorists, not usher terrorists into the homeland," the group's directors said in a statement e-mailed to CNN.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House Counsel Greg Craig is trying to put to rest rumors that his time as the president’s top in-house lawyer is coming to an untimely end, according to a report by the National Law Journal.
"'I have no plans to leave whatsoever,'" Craig reportedly told the legal publication. "'The rumors that I'm about to leave are false. The reports that I'm about to leave are wrong. I have no plans to leave.'"
As the Obama administration has begun to send signals that it may not meet its own one-year deadline for closing the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a deadline that that the new administration set for itself with much fanfare on President Obama’s first full day in office, Craig has found himself increasingly subject to rumors that he is headed out of the White House.
In the interview with the National Law Journal, Craig denied a September 25 report by the Washington Post that he had played a leading role in developing the administration’s initial plan to close the controversial facility by late January 2010.
To address the setbacks it encountered in closing the facility, “the administration has shifted its leadership team on the issue,” the Post’s September 25 report said. “White House Counsel Gregory B. Craig, who initially guided the effort to close the prison and who was an advocate of setting the deadline, is no longer in charge of the project,” the Post reported, citing two senior Obama administration officials.
But Craig says the Post’s report is inaccurate.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledges that closing the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will likely take longer than planned.
"I think it has proven more complicated than ... anticipated," Gates said in an interview broadcast Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."
Noting he had pushed for a firm deadline of closing the controversial facility in January 2010, Gates said: "If you have to extend that date, if at least you have a strong plan showing you're making progress in that direction, then this - it shouldn't be a problem to extend it and we'll just see whether that has to happen or not."
In a separate interview on the ABC program "This Week," Gates said closing the military prison on schedule would be "tough."
Also on ABC, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said he attended briefings in which he was told the Guantanamo facility was unlikely to close on schedule.
"Apparently they're certainly not going to make that deadline," McCain said. "But we should continue to work towards the closure of Guantanamo Bay because of the image that it has in the world of brutality, (which) harms our image very badly."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Federal officials will travel to Standish, Michigan, on Thursday to tour a state prison that could be used to house terror suspects detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. government officials said Wednesday.
Among those who will check out the facility, the officials said, will be representatives from the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Prisons.
One administration official stressed no decision has been made about where to relocate Guantanamo detainees. Multiple options are under consideration. That official added Thursday's visit is simply to gather information about the prison.