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US lawmakers compromise on domestic prosecutions of Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] Members of the Homeland Security Appropriations Conference Committee [list, PDF] reached an agreement [text, PDF] Wednesday that would allow Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees to be transferred to the US for trial. The compromise would allocate $42.78 billion for the Homeland Security appropriations bill [HR 2892 materials] and would stipulate that current detainees may be transferred to the US for prosecution after information is disclosed to Congress. Officials would have to submit a plan to Congress that details risks, costs, and legal rationale and verifies the attorney general's certification for each detainee to be transferred. In order to close the facility, the agreement would require the president to submit a report to Congress detailing the disposition of each current detainee. Ranking committee minority member Hal Rogers (R-KY) [official website] called the agreement "a fairly reasonable compromise" but expressed his concerns [statement text] about transferring the detainees to US soil. Committee Chairman David Price (D-NC) [official website] said that the agreement was substantial progress [press release] toward strengthening Homeland Security. The appropriations bill still needs final approval from Congress before being presented to the president.

Earlier this week, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] told reporters that the Obama administration may miss its January deadline for closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, echoing prior statements [JURIST reports] by top administration officials. Last week, the House passed a non-binding motion [JURIST report] to instruct the conferees to prohibit the transfer of detainees to the US for prosecution or incarceration. The motion, introduced by Rogers, instructed House committee members to insist on such prohibitions during negotiations. In June, the House approved a spending bill [JURIST report] that denied the administration $60 million requested to close the prison. The Senate amended a supplemental appropriations bill [JURIST report] in May to delay a similar $80 request until a detailed plan was made available.

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