WASHINGTON (CNN) – Attorney General Eric Holder's Guantanamo Review Task Force is struggling to sort the prison detainees into five neatly ordered lists, as government lawyers try to somehow fashion a plan which will clear expected legal challenges while satisfying skeptical lawmakers and a nervous public.
Every turn appears more complicated as the weeks pass.
On the immediate heels of a demand by Congress for a clear and specific plan for emptying Guantanamo, one of President Barack Obama's top aides, David Axelrod, promised Thursday that Congress would receive such a plan, and declared the president's address Thursday represented a "framework for a plan." Administration officials indicate the plan itself is probably months away.
During an address on national security at the National Archives in Washington, Obama defended his decision to close the detention center at Guantanamo, and he outlined categories in which to separate the remaining detainees.
The framework calls for putting the names of the 240 remaining detainees into five piles, then trying to resolve the legal complexities of each.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Preliminary intelligence assessments show more than 14 percent of detainees released from Guantanamo Bay have returned or are suspected of having returned to terrorism activities, an administration official with knowledge of the Defense Department's information told CNN.
That number, which reflects data through the beginning of 2009, has gone up slightly from statistics compiled through the end of 2008, when the recidivism rate was considered to be 11 percent, according to the administration official. It had been at 7 percent in earlier years, but the Pentagon has not disclosed what time frame that encompasses.
The official emphasized the latest data is still being verified within the military intelligence community, but it appears likely to show that the rate of recidivism has now reached more than 14 percent.
(CNN) - Hours after President Obama delivered a speech defending his choice to close Guantanamo Bay, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made clear Thursday he thinks the president still needs to provide details on where he plans to relocate detainees of the facility.
"We've received today a broad vision from President Obama and it's important that he did that, said Reid, who on Wednesday supported a Senate measure to strip funding to close the facility until a plan is laid out.
"We're all awaiting the details of his plan and he's going to come up with one."
"Democrats certainly, agree that it should be closed," Reid also said. "And it's going to be closed. I think that the president did today was giving us a broad vision of what he expects. And knowing President Obama like we've all gotten to know him, he doesn't do things half-cocked. He's going to give us a detailed plan and it will be forthcoming soon."
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The U.S. Senate passed a measure Wednesday that would prevent detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from being transferred to the United States for now.
The measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in a 90-6 vote. A similar amendment has already passed the House. It was attached to a supplemental war funding bill.
Following in the steps of House Democrats, Senate Democrats rejected on Tuesday the administration's request for $80 million to close the Guantanamo facility. They instead asked that President Barack Obama first submit a plan spelling out what the administration will do with the prisoners when it closes the prison.
The moves by the Democratic-controlled Congress are considered a sharp rebuke to Obama, who is slated to give a speech Thursday on the future of Guantanamo Bay.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The president retains the power to hold indefinitely and without charges some accused terrorists at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military detention camp, a federal judge has ruled.
The decision by District Judge John Bates said those prisoners the United States deems responsible for the 9/11 attacks, or those who are or were al Qaeda or Taliban members can be detained. But he limited the Obama administration's power to imprison those who it says "support" terror or enemy forces.
The decision comes as the White House and Congress face a showdown over what to do with hundreds of Guantanamo prisoners when the facility at the U.S. naval base in Cuba is closed, a move Obama has promised will occur before February. Many lawmakers opposed housing the prisoners in the United States.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has learned Senate Democrats will pull money to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison from a war funding bill instead of face an onslaught of criticism from Republicans, who argue it would be reckless to shutter the prison before the Obama administration has decided where to transfer the terrorism suspects who are detained there.
Democratic leaders made the decision this morning, according to two Senate Democratic leadership sources. It is a blow to President Obama who - in one of his first official acts as president - announced that he would close the base by next January 22.
The Senate war supplemental bill, which is scheduled to be voted on this week, included $80 million for the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice to begin the process of shutting down the prison.
Now, that money will be stripped out and replaced with language saying no funds can be used to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the United States, and no additional money will be approved, until 60 days after the president submits to Congress his plan to close the facility. That language is similar to a provision in the House bill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The GOP is sending a strong message to the Obama administration: Don't bring former Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States.
House Republicans introduced legislation Thursday aimed at stopping the release or transfer of terrorists at GITMO from being imported to the United States.
"The world suddenly did not become safer on January 20, 2009," House Republican Leader John Boehner said at a press conference Thursday. "We ought to make clear that none of these detainees should be brought to the United States until such time as the President has had a conversation with the American people, which is the essence of the bill that we are bringing forward."
The Keep Terrorists out of America Act opposes transfer of any detainee to the United States, but requires that governors and state legislatures pre-approve the import of terrorists from the prison camps to their respective states, if such a process should occur.
"Guantanamo was chosen for a specific reason. It is isolated," Texas Rep. Lamar Smith said Thursday. "That all fundamentally changes when you take them off of an island, away from Gitmo, and plunk them down in the middle of Michigan, in the middle of Kansas, in the middle of Virginia, or in the middle of New York."
No time frames or announcements have been made by the White House concerning what to do with some 240 detainees. The review that President Obama ordered at the beginning of his administration continues.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A day after House Democrats rejected President Obama's funding request to close down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - arguing the administration hasn't presented its plan for moving the prisoners - a senior Senate Democrat said he and other key senators may still support the president's request.
"The president has already said he's going to close it down, " said Sen. Tom Harkin, "and we ought to put the money there to continue on the pathway and get it done before the year is out."
The Iowa senator also dismissed Republican concerns that the detainees now at Guantanamo cannot be safely housed in federal prisons in the United States - if that's what the administration proposes - and said he'd welcome them in Iowa if his state had a maximum-security prison.
"I never could understand why people are afraid of these people being in jail. It's like, they can't go anywhere," Harkin said. "Do they think they're going to create some activity outside the prison? I mean, that never made sense to me. If they're in jail, they're in jail."
Republican leaders have urged the administration to abandon its announced policy to close the prison until it has developed a plan to deal with the prisoners.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Pushing back at a request from President Obama, congressional Democrats are dropping the administration's request for $80 million to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
House Appropriations Chairman David Obey, who is drafting an emergency war funding bill, told reporters he supported the president's plan to close the prison, but said more details were needed. "So far as we can tell there is yet no concrete program for that," said the Wisconsin Democrat. "And while I don't mind defending a concrete program, I'm not much interested in wasting my energy defending a theoretical program. So when they have the plan they're welcome to come back and talk to us about it."
According to Democratic aides, the Obama administration requested $50 million for the Defense Department and $30 million for the Justice Department to close down Guantanamo prison.