U.S. may close Gitmo prison

The US government is considering closing a war-on-terror detention center at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and granting it detainees substantially greater rights, The New York Times reported on its website Saturday.

Citing unnamed officials involved in the discussions, the newspaper said the plan also called for possibly moving most of the detainees to the United States.

One proposal that is being discussed would overhaul the procedure for determining whether detainees are properly held by granting them legal representation at detention hearings and by giving federal judges, not military officers, the power to decide whether suspects should be held, the report said.

The move would be necessary in the event of the Guantanamo detention center’s closure because, as some officials now say, moving the detainees to US soil would require giving them enhanced protections, the paper said.

“If you were to bring them to the United States, there is a recognition that for policy reasons you would need even more robust procedures than those currently at Guantanamo,” The Times quoted one senior official as saying.

Currently, the military alone has the power to decide which foreign terrorism suspects should be held and for how long.

Yet some officials say that enhancing detainees’ rights could also help the administration strategically, by undercutting a case brought by suspects at Guantanamo that is now before the Supreme Court, the report noted.