[JURIST] US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff [official profile] on Sunday told [transcript text] the BBC that before closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], President-elect Barack Obama must have a plan for dealing with the detainees. In an appearance on The Andrew Marr Show, Chertoff said that there must be a system in place for determining whether detainees can be returned to their home countries, and a plan for what to do with those detainees that cannot be returned. Chertoff said:
Well my advice [to Obama] would be to take a deep breath and try to put together a plan that would sort between the various categories of detainee. Some I think can be sent back and we've been doing that. Some will not be able to be sent back and we need to have a legal process to resolve their cases in a way that is fair to them, but also takes account of the special problem of trying people where there is national security evidence.
He also said that Obama's biggest challenge will be "to build a sustainable process for going forward with respect to the War on Terror."
Last week Portugal's foreign minister said that his country would be willing to take in [JURIST report] Guantanamo detainees if Obama closed the facility, and encouraged other European Union member states to do the same. Rights groups have urged Obama to close the controversial military prison upon inauguration in January. Last month the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] launched an ad campaign [image, PDF] calling on Obama to close Guantanamo Bay and end the use of military commissions on his first day in office. Also in November, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called upon Obama to denounce Bush administration counterterrorism policies [JURIST report] that they described as "abusive." Obama and his advisers have yet to reach a firm decision [JURIST report] on the closure of the facility.