US attorney general: Gitmo reviews under way

AP News
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Posted: Nov 08, 2009 9:39 AM

U.S. officials are reviewing which Guantanamo Bay detainees could face trial in American courts and the first indications could come next week, the U.S. attorney general said Sunday.

Eric Holder told reporters that some decisions could be announced as early as Nov. 16, but he declined to give details or say whether it could include some of the detainees accused in the September 11 attacks.

The Senate last week backed a plan _ supported by Holder and Defense Secretary Robert Gates _ to have the option of prosecuting September 11 terrorists, such as accused mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in either federal courts or by a military commission.

"We are committed to bring to justice people who have committed crimes against our nation and we will do so consistent with the rule of the law," Holder said on the sidelines of a conference on battling corruption.

Five of the accused Sept. 11 plotters are being held at the Guantanamo detention facility, which the Obama administration has promised to close.

But U.S. officials are struggling with issues such as deciding which detainees will face prosecution and which can be returned to their homeland or a third country. The administration also is grappling with how to keep in prison a small handful of detainees considered too dangerous to release or put on trial.

More the 210 detainees remain in Guantanamo.

"There has been some speculation that we will not make the January deadline of closing Guantanamo," said Holder. "But I will make one thing very clear: We will close the facility at Guantanamo. Getting this far as not been as an easy task and much work remains to be done and we will close Guantanamo."