President Barack Obama is pulling the plug on his controversial plan to resettle cleared Guantanamo detainees in the United States, admitting defeat in the face of strong, bi-partisan opposition from Congress.
His capitulation on the issue is a rare defeat for the popular President.
The Washington Post revealed the decision in Friday’s edition and noted that Obama’s defeat also complicates efforts to persuade other countries to take former prisoners from the base in Cuba.
While those charged will still be tried in the United States, those cleared of charges or those who face long term confinement without trial as "enemy combatants" will not be brought into the United States.
The Obama administration has all but abandoned plans to allow Guantanamo Bay detainees who have been cleared for release to live in the United States, administration officials said yesterday, a decision that reflects bipartisan congressional opposition to admitting such prisoners but complicates efforts to persuade European allies to accept them.
Four Uighur detainees, Chinese Muslims who were incarcerated at the U.S. military prison in Cuba for more than seven years, arrived early yesterday in Bermuda, where they will become foreign guest workers. An administration official said the United States is engaged in negotiations with other countries, including Palau, an island nation in the western Pacific, to find places for the remaining 13 Uighurs held at Guantanamo.
The Uighurs, who were ordered released by a federal judge last year, never counted America as an enemy, according to the men’s lawyers and human rights groups, giving the administration grounds to argue that they should live in the United States. Picked up in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2002, the Uighurs were later cleared of the "enemy combatant" label but remained in minimum-security confinement at Guantanamo.
Attempting to settle non-Uighur detainees in the United States would generate even greater congressional opposition, and the administration has decided not to pursue it broadly, an administration official said yesterday, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. But he said there may yet be "a few" candidates for settlement in the United States among the dozens of Guantanamo detainees who have been cleared for release.
Congressional Democrats yesterday reached agreement on a war-funding bill that would allow detainees to be sent to the United States for trial. The draft bill included no provision for prolonged detention without trial, a step that President Obama has said will be necessary to incarcerate detainees who are too dangerous to release but who cannot be prosecuted.