White House Denies Talk of Closing Guantanamo

The Bush administration was insisting Friday that there was no imminent decision on closing the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee center despite reports that a plan was being reviewed to shutter the facility used to hold alleged terrorists.

But senior officials have told The Associated Press that consensus was building for a plan to shut Guantanamo and send its inmates to one or more military prisons in America, including the top-security prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

According to the AP, a meeting of top officials on Guantanamo was planned for Friday but was called off when word leaked.

"It's no longer on the schedule for tomorrow," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council. "Senior officials have met on the issue in the past, and I expect they will meet on the issue in the future."

Christopher Anders, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, says closing Guantanamo is long overdue because some people at the facility have been "wasting away" there for more than five years without being charged.

Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the military tribunal system the administration planned to use for Guantanamo inmates.

Lawmakers have introduced bills to either close Guantanamo or give prisoners access to lawyers.

Previous plans to close Guantanamo ran into resistance from senior White House figures.

Vice President Dick Cheney's office and the Justice Department have been against the step, arguing that moving "unlawful" enemy combatant suspects to the U.S. would give them undeserved legal rights.

From The Associated Press

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