White House shifts Guantanamo policy

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 3:03 PM
White House shifts Guantanamo policy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a setback to hopes for a quick closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Obama administration on Monday lifted a stay on filing new charges in military tribunals there and set up a process for continuing to hold detainees who have not been charged.

President Barack Obama said he ordered the Defense Department to lift an order that had suspended the filing of new charges in the military tribunals at the camp. Obama had suspended such charges when he announced his review of the detainee policy in early 2009, shortly after he took office.

The White House said that review was now complete.

Obama also issued an executive order on Monday establishing a process to continue to hold some Guantanamo detainees who have been neither charged, convicted nor designated for transfer but who are deemed to pose a threat to security.

However, the White House said Obama remained committed to eventually closing the prison at Guantanamo, at some point.

Obama also said he still felt the justice system was an important part of its war against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

There are still 172 detainees at the Guantanamo prison and about three dozen were set for prosecution in either U.S. criminal courts or military commissions. Republicans had demanded the trials be held at Guantanamo.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle in Washington and Jane Sutton in Miami, Editing by Sandra Maler)