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Changing Guantanamo's zip code?

Mark Mardell | 02:07 UK time, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

President Obama's administration says it will remove a "deadly recruiting tool" from the hands of al-Qaeda.

Some Republicans say it will put Americans at risk. Illinois' Democratic governor, who'll be fighting for his own job next year, says the move will bring much-needed employment to the state. Amnesty International says it is merely changing Guantanamo's zip (postal) code.

Moving an undetermined number of people from the world's most notorious prison in Cuba to the American mainland is fraught with political difficulties. Those who think they should simply stay there will of course dislike this decision and warn of its possible consequences.

But for those who agree with closing Guantanamo, it may underscore a problem of logic, that was apparent but not much commented on, when the "trial of the century" was announced recently. At least it raises some questions.

if those who are accused of plotting 9/11 can be tried in a civil court, why can't all those detained be treated the same way? According to the administration's own argument, what hands al-Qaeda a "deadly recruiting tool" is detaining people without either the rights of prisoners of war or criminals.

How does moving their location from an island to a US state change that? If only "some" are to be moved to the new facility, and none are to be released into the USA, what happens to the rest?

And maybe I've missed it, but it is not clear to me if all those currently detained will face either criminal prosecution or military tribunal or if some will simply be held without trial indefinitely.


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