Breaking News

Pentagon studies closing Guantanamo

UPDATE Friday morning

The transcript of the news briefing Thursday has now been made available by the Pentagon on its website, and can be found here.  The briefing deals with other topics, too, but the discussion of the Guantanamo closing issue begins about three-fourths of the way into the transcript, with the comment by Mr. Morrell: “Somebody, I think, asked me sort of what the status was within this building in terms of…contingency planning for the closure of Gitmo.” The transcript itself is copyrighted by a private entity.


In a move with a potentially major impact on the federal courts, the Pentagon announced Thursday that Defense Secretary Robert Gates — who will continue to hold that post in the new Obama Administration — has ordered staff aides to draw up a plan for closing the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

That facility is at the center of ongoing disputes at all levels of the federal courts over the Bush Administration’s detention policy.  Closure of the prison at Guantanamo could mean wholesale changes in the law as it applies to detainees there.  It could lead to new legislation on the issue.

The new plan was announced by the Pentagon’s press secretary, Geoff Morrell, at a press conference.  The transcript is not yet available, but extensive quotations from Morrell are included in this report by the Voice of America.

Morrell was quoted as saying: “Fundamentally, the motivation for the secretary in this respect is not just the fact that he believes closure is the right thing, but that the president-elect has made it perfectly clear throughout the course of the campaign that he wishes to address this issue early on in his administration.  And so the secretary wants to be prepared to assist him in trying to figure out a solution to this thorny problem.”