Senior administration officials said Thursday a consensus is building for a proposal to shut the center and transfer detainees to one or more Defense Department facilities, including the maximum-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where they could face trial.
President Bush's national security and legal advisers had been scheduled to discuss the move at a meeting Friday, the officials said, but after news of it broke, the White House said the meeting would not take place that day and no decision on Guantanamo Bay's status is imminent.
"It's no longer on the schedule for tomorrow," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council. "Senior officials have met on the issue in the past, and I expect they will meet on the issue in the future."
That the Bush administration, increasingly constrained by Federal appellate and Supreme Court opinions, would be looking to close the facility is really no surprise. Since the establishment of Gitmo, the Bush administration has managed to garner only one significant conviction, but has otherwise repeatedly stuttered and stalled when challenged in court. The closure of Gitmo has really been inevitable; the only real question is what they may do with the prisoners next. The article provides no real answer to that question.
Here's the reaction of Steve Clemons who, for what it's worth, knows people who know people:
A friend of mine offered circumstantial evidence that something "big and good" was in the works as he ran into and gave an assessment of the "mood and physical condition" of Condi's Chief Legal Advisor, John Bellinger, the other day -- who has shepherded forward the administration's support of the Law of the Seas Treaty, helped shut down secret detention facilities, suggested that the US could be supportive of International Criminal Court investigations concerning Darfur, and now probably helped make the case for shutting down GITMO. My friend said he had not seen Bellinger look so relaxed and so happy in quite a long time.
When it comes to these sorts of issues, the "mood" of people who have a conscience is worth noting.
So nobody seems to know what's going to happen next to the prisoners being held at Gitmo, but everybody seems to think something is going to happen. My supreme hope is that they'll be brought to the United States for trial, but they could just as easily be transferred to military detention facilities in Afghanistan or Iraq or in other places unknown to us yet. Time will tell, but change is definitely in the wind.
UPDATE: The Washington Post reports on the limited options that the Bush administration has for what to do with all the detainees presently at Gitmo. I have no sympathy, as they have purposely limited their own options over the last several years in an effort to "prove" that their approach was the only valid approach. They were wrong. Now they can deal with it.