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White House considering giving detainees new rights after Guantanamo closure: NYT

[JURIST] Amidst discussions among members of the Bush administration on closing the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], officials are considering providing detainees expanded court access and transferring them to federal custody in the United States, the New York Times reported Sunday. Under the current approach backed by the White House, military Combatant Status Review Tribunals [DOD materials] review whether a detainee is properly held, a procedure where detainees have limited access to evidence and defense lawyers. If detainees were moved to the US after Guantanamo was closed, the detainees would be provided legal representation at hearings to review their detention, which would be presided over by federal judges.

According to the Times, some administration officials are pushing for expanded rights for detainees before the US Supreme Court has an opportunity to accord them greater rights this term in Boumediene v. Bush [JURIST report; JURIST comment], where the Court will hear a challenge to an appeals court decision [PDF text; JURIST report] upholding the habeas corpus-stripping provision of the Military Commission Act (MCA) [PDF text; JURIST news archive] as applied to "enemy combatants."

Other administration officials have argued that transferring 200 suspected terrorists to the US and granting them substantial legal rights would threaten national security. The Times reported that US Defense Secretary Robert Gates [official profile] has in the past few weeks called on his advisers to propose a Guantanamo closure plan.

The Bush administration has been facing growing pressure [JURIST report] to close down the facilities at Guantanamo. In October, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin [official website] called on the US in a report [DOC text] to quickly prosecute or release terror suspects [UN report, DOC; JURIST report] detained at Guantanamo so that the US can close the detention center. US President George W. Bush said in August that he wants to shut down [JURIST report] the detention facility, but that other countries have shown reluctance to accept detainees. The New York Times has more.

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