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Will GITMO detainees be moved?

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The House and Senate on Dec. 22 passed a sweeping defense authorization bill that greatly hampers the President's ability to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, also known as GITMO. This means detainees will not likely have trials in federal courts, or be housed in prisons in the U.S. The federal government had explored buying a state prison in Illinois and transferring detainees there to await trial.

With passage of the defense bill, it appears detainees will be tried by military commissions only because the bill bans spending funds to transfer detainees into the U.S., even for trials. It further prohibits the purchase or construction of a facility to house GITMO detainees within the U.S. Many were concerned about moving suspected terrorists to the U.S. for trial or housing them in prisons, citing security concerns.

The President could veto the bill, but many speculate he won't because it authorizes billions of dollars for Iraq and Afghanistan. The House approved HR 6523 on December 17 by a vote of 341-48, with my support. The Senate tweaked the bill and passed it under Unanimous Consent, meaning no votes were recorded. The House on Dec. 22 approved the final version of the bill that will be sent to the President without a recorded vote.


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