The Obama administration is considering a court-room-within-a-prison complex to house and try suspected terrorists, The Associated Press reported on Sunday. The plans would combine civilian and military detention facilities under one roof, officials told the AP. The operation would be jointly run by the departments of the Defense, Homeland Security and Justice.
Possible sites include the soon-to-be-shuttered state maximum security prison in Michigan and the military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said told the AP that no decisions have been made about the proposal. And The Washington Post reports in today’s paper that the ideas have been debated by an interagency task force examining detention policy but have not moved beyond that stage.
The administration’s plan, three government officials told the AP, calls for following measures:
- Moving all the Guantanamo detainees to a single U.S. prison. The Justice Department has identified between 60 and 80 who could be prosecuted, either in military or federal criminal courts. The Pentagon would oversee the detainees who would face trial in military tribunals. The Bureau of Prisons, an arm of the Justice Department, would manage defendants in federal courts.
- Building a court facility within the prison site where military or criminal defendants would be tried. Doing so would create a single venue for almost all the criminal defendants, ending the need to transport them elsewhere in the U.S. for trial.
- Providing long-term holding cells for a small but still undetermined number of detainees who will not face trial because intelligence and counterterror officials conclude they are too dangerous to risk being freed.
- Building immigration detention cells for detainees ordered released by courts but still behind bars because countries are unwilling to take them.