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House calls for Guantanamo shutdown plan in defense spending bill amendment

[JURIST] The US House of Representatives voted 220-208 [roll call] Thursday to pass an amendment [PDF text, via CR] to the FY'08 Defense Authorization Bill [PDF text; HR 1585 summary] to require the Office of the Secretary of Defense to develop a report within 60 days after the bill is signed into law, identifying the "current capacity at Department of Defense (DOD) facilities in the United States to securely hold and try before a military commission the detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." The amendment, introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) [official profile; press release], will require the DOD to identify the number of detainees that will be charged with a crime, subject to a release or transfer, or held without being charged with a crime, and also seeks to ensure that detainees scheduled for release are "released no later than December 31, 2007." Moran characterized the detentions at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] as "a stain on our reputation as a nation - governed by the rule of law - that respects justice and democracy," and said that "the policy options before the President and Congress should not be limited by a lack of information." The House passed the appropriations bill by a 397-27 vote [roll call]. The Senate must still pass its version of the legislation, and the bills will need to be reconciled.

Pentagon officials say that they plan to try approximately 80 of the 385 detainees designated as "enemy combatants" [JURIST news archive] under the framework created by Military Commission Act of 2006 [PDF text], and plan to transfer around 80 detainees to other countries. The remaining detainees are in legal limbo. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court heard arguments [JURIST report] brought by detainees challenging their designation as "enemy combatants." Last Tuesday, three US lawmakers introduced legislation to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

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