Where Will The Detainees Go After Guantanamo? President Obama has signed an executive order banning torture and calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility within a year. Authorities must now decide where to send the detainees, as politicians across the country declare they're not interested.
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Where Will The Detainees Go After Guantanamo?

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Where Will The Detainees Go After Guantanamo?

Where Will The Detainees Go After Guantanamo?

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This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Lynn Neary in Washington. On Thursday, President Obama signed a series of executive orders banning torture and calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year. The move marked a clear shift from the Bush administration, and many have praised the symbolic importance of the order, but important questions remain; chief among them, where will the detainees go? Prisons like Colorado Supermax and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, are under consideration, but politicians and communities are already saying, not in my backyard.

In a moment, we'll hear the perspective from Leavenworth, Kansas. And we want to hear from those of you near Leavenworth or other prisons under consideration: Charleston, South Carolina, San Diego, New York City. How would you feel about Guantanamo detainees nearby? Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255. Our email address is talk@npr.org. And you can join the conversation at our Web site; go to npr.org and click on Talk of the Nation. Joining us now by phone from Kansas is Andrea Adkins. She is economic development administrator for the city of Leavenworth. Welcome to the program, Andrea.

Ms. ANDREA ADKINS (Economic Development Administrator, Leavenworth, Kansas): Good afternoon.

NEARY: How does the city feel about this possibility that Guantanamo detainees might come to Fort Leavenworth?

Ms. ADKINS: Well, certainly, among many different reasons, the potential for having detainees of this caliber in our community not only poses a security risk; it also poses many other potential economic impacts and diplomatic implications that we are not in favor of.

NEARY: Well, what are those? What do you mean by economic and diplomatic implications?

Ms. ADKINS: Well, you know, Fort Leavenworth is widely known as the intellectual center of the Army. It's the home of 16 schools, institutes and colleges, and they host over 100 students from all over the globe who basically live and study in our community for the year that they're here at CGSC. And many of those countries have said that they would not send their students here for that year, and many of those students will go on to become future world leaders and heads of state and things like that, and they really are a large part of the culture that forms our community.

NEARY: Countries have already said that if those detainees come to Leavenworth, they're not going to allow their students to go to colleges and universities in the area; is that what you're saying?

Ms. ADKINS: It is my understanding that the contacts that they've had at Fort Leavenworth that several Middle Eastern countries have said that they would not be in favor of sending students to study so close to such a controversial and something that they don't necessarily approve of a group of individuals.

NEARY: What are the specific security concerns you have about these inmates?

Ms. ADKINS: Well, you know, when we say inmates, we really are, kind of, comparing apples to oranges when we look at these people as being inmates. Leavenworth definitely does have a reputation as being a law-enforcement, and even a prison, community. But you know, the typical inmate does not pose a terrorist threat to our community. They're typically behind the walls for whatever duration of their stay in the community is and then released and generally go back home. There's not protesters and, you know, threats as far as any security threats with terrorism or anything like that associated with inmates that stay in our community or at Fort Leavenworth.

NEARY: I am just trying to be clear about this, because it is a maximum security prison.

Ms. ADKINS: It is. It is a maximum security prison. But that's not something that we generally have to deal with in the community. Most of the inmates stay behind walls; you know, their families do not necessarily move here. You know, it's just not something that we see a lot of, the protesters and things like that, that would typically follow with the detainee-type population or not something that we're prepared for, and speculation obviously, you know, what could potentially follow behind them. You know, if this would be a terrorist threat in the form of making an impact or, you know, doing something with a statement - I mean, terroristic actions are to make a show. And you know, that's certainly something that we don't want to be the target for.

NEARY: Well, presumably, I mean, these prisoners will be kept in the maximum security prison. I mean, they will behind walls. I mean, do you think that this prison is not equipped to hold...?

Ms. ADKINS: Well, what we have been told is that the parameters of Fort Leavenworth and possibly even the mission of Fort Leavenworth might be changed greatly. Right now, the maximum security prison is very close to farm lands, a railroad - I'm sorry - and an airport, an international airport, that are both quite busy. And those things are potential security risks when you look at, you know, what a terrorist might do. Those are things that would have to be either moved or shut down, and also, like I said, the parameters of the gate could possibly change, where we would have to move the gates of the prison wall and things like that, the gate of the fort out further.

NEARY: So, it sounds like to me from what you're saying that the biggest concern is that if this happened, Leavenworth, the Leavenworth area, would become a target.

Ms. ADKINS: That's a speculation, obviously, but it is something that we're all very concerned about.

NEARY: And would you say that probably is the main concern of the community there?

Ms. ADKINS: That is absolutely the main concern of the community.

NEARY: Have you been in touch with Congressional leaders at all about this, or...

Ms. ADKINS: All of our delegation has been incredibly proactive at, you know, taking care of this. Senator Brownback, as you know, has introduced legislation that would ban this from happening, which we are all very much so in support of. Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and Senator Pat Roberts have also made very strong statements against this type of activity. And we've also been in contact, you know, with the governor's office, and we're hoping that she will be making a statement in the near future as well.

NEARY: All right. Thanks so much for joining us, Andrea.

Ms. ADKINS: Thank you.

NEARY: Andrea Adkins joined us by phone from Leavenworth, Kansas, where she is economic development administrator. And joining us now in Studio 3A is Jackie Northam. She covers national security issues for NPR. She travels regularly to the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It's good to have you with us, Jackie.

JACKIE NORTHAM: Thank you very much, Lynn.

NEARY: So, you just listened to that conversation; you heard some of those objections from Leavenworth. Other communities may have the exact same, very similar, objections. Where do you think these detainees are going to go?

NORTHAM: Well, that's a million-dollar question, isn't it, right now. And in fact, you know, the Pentagon people who deal with detainee affairs at the Pentagon, State Department, various other agencies, have been working on this for a very long time, not just since President Obama signed the executive order. And I spoke with very high officials at the Pentagon who are dealing intimately with this, and they've basically told me on background that, you know, all of the communities that they have approached - and these are mostly the military ones, Leavenworth, Pendleton, Charleston and everything else like that - plus they send out feelers and envoys to check the civilian prisons such as Supermax in Colorado and that type of thing. Every last case they've been met with, at best, strong opposition; at worst, sort of outraged.

None of these communities want these prisoners. It's going to be a very, very difficult thing for them to figure out where to put them. There's other things as well. I was listening to Ms. Adkins talk about Leavenworth and just sort of the parameters of this - or perimeter of the prison there. There are other problems, too, as I understand it from the Pentagon folk who said, federal law does not allow to place these Guantanamo prisoners, unlawful enemy combatants, in the same population as certainly a civilian population, prison population or military. They have to be segregated. And so to do that, they would have to bring in - they will have to create their own transportation networks to move these food facilities, health - medical facilities, essentially move Guantanamo onto the mainland, for all intents and purposes, but what they're trying to do is change the policies involved with this.

NEARY: Where would they put that facility, though?

NORTHAM: They would either have to build it or, you know, extend it somehow like that. And this is why, you know, the other thing they're talking about is just to identify where a new prison can be built and then build that prison. Again, the community at that location will have to be sort of convinced that this is a good thing. And this is - you know, everybody I spoke with, an analyst I've talked to, and everything else like that, say that President Obama is really going to have to spend some of his domestic political capital to make this happen.

NEARY: Interesting email here from Lucas in Berkeley, California: We need to ask why we are even asking this question. If you have a maximum security prison, you have maximum security prisoners. Why are these prisoners more dangerous than a serial killer when they are incarcerated in the facility that is designed for maximum security? When you just look at the reality of the danger here, has the U.S. ever had a problem with this before?

NORTHAM: No, they haven't. And in fact, you know, you do have, you know, high-profile terrorists in maximum security prisons anyway: Richard Reid, the shoe bomber; John Walker Lindh, although - Zacarias Moussaoui. They're already now. One of the other problems, though, Lynn, is actually there's not enough beds for these people. You've got 245. They're trying to get rid of 60 as we speak right now. But still, if we do our math, that's about 160 that they have to place somewhere. And as I understand that there aren't - there wasn't any facility, maximum security facility, that has the capability of taking that. Might have to split them up. Might - just don't know yet.

NEARY: Well, let me ask you this, I mean, it's too late for this question, but could Guantanamo have been changed in some way to - I mean, did President Obama have to do this, if nothing else but for symbolic purposes?

NORTHAM: Absolutely. No question about that, absolutely. That's the number-one thing because there are enough facilities down there. Everything is set up for them to go, but it is just so stained now. What is done to America's reputation is, you know, you can't put a price on that, and so he had to close it.

NEARY: This was just something he wasn't going to compromise on.

NORTHAM: Right. You had to do it.

NEARY: So, now they just have to accommodate it somehow. How many prisoners are we talking about? Let's talk about the...

NORTHAM: Right. Well, they never give you precise figure, but roughly 245, they're down to now. They've released about 500 already of the (unintelligible)...

NEARY: Which I think a lot of people don't realize how many have already been (unintelligible)...

NORTHAM: Yeah, you know, the worst of the worst are right back out in the field again right now. And there's always this talk that came up the other that, you know, this certain number has gone back to the battlefield and the Pentagon released a report just about the time the President Obama was signing his executive order that said 61, they're going back the field. I've been covering this for several years now, and they can only ever name - well, it's gone up a little bit to 18 now, but for years, it was 12 that they could name had been captured or killed. And they never tell you who the other ones are, though, and they always use under cloak of national-security concerns and that type of thing.

And I'm sorry; I might sound a little jaded, but there is this skepticism amongst the people who have covered the story for so long, because it just - it's sort of a - always been a good reason not to let people go, is that they're going back out in the field. Having said that, you know, over 500 people have been let go, and I've charted the course of some of these people. I did a story one time on just looking where everybody has gone. Ninety percent of them have gone right back to the life they were living before they were released. You know, you have human-rights groups that chart this and everything else.

NEARY: Well, of the 245...


NEARY: How many are designated as truly dangerous or hardcore terrorists or...

NORTHAM: Right. Well, that's the other question. Right. OK. Well, about a third - they're split up into about three. About 60 are already cleared for release. They've been determined to be no longer a threat to the U.S. or its allies. About a third of them, they've always said, about 80, they want to try. They want to prosecute and feel that they have enough evidence to do that. Having said that, they've only changed 24 people and three of those went to trial. And then there is this third category, which is really sort of contentious and controversial...

NEARY: We're going to take a quick break, Jackie.

(Soundbite of laughter)


NEARY: And we're going to find out who the third group is and we're going to continue this discussion and where all this is leading, including how some of these people are going to be tried. If you would like to join our discussion, the number is 800-989-8255. Send us an email to talk@npr.org. And up next, Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas will be talking about this on Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

NEARY: This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Lynn Neary in Washington. Donald Rumsfeld, then the secretary of Defense, said the prison at Guantanamo Bay held, quote, "the worst of the worst." Now that President Obama plans to close the prison, few if any places seem to want them in this country or overseas. Some of the options being explored include Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the Naval Brig in Charleston, South Carolina, Camp Pendleton, and Miramar Air Station in San Diego, the Supermax Prison in Colorado and the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City.

If you live near any of those areas, how would you feel about Guantanamo detainees nearby? Our number is 800-989-8255. Our email address is talk@npr.org, or you can join the conversation at our Web site. Go to npr.org and click on Talk of the Nation. Jackie Northam is still with us. She is NPR's national security correspondent. And just before the break, she was explaining to us who the different groups of inmates are at Guantanamo Bay, and there was a third group you hadn't a chance to describe that.

NORTHAM: Sorry, that's right. And the third group is, again, really is one of the tricky things that they have to sort out and is increasingly become a contentious issue, is that - there's a group of men about 80 that they say - the government - the administration says that - the Bush administration says they don't have enough evidence to prosecute them, and yet U.S. intelligence agencies are saying, you can't let these guys go; they're simply too dangerous. What the new administration is going to do with those is really important, because, do we maintain this sort of policy of preventive detention? Or do we try these people, run the risk of acquittal? It's going to be interesting to see what happens there.

NEARY: Can you do preventive detention in the regular prison system? I mean, if we're considering...

NORTHAM Well, that's it.

NEARY: The maximum security federal prisons...

NORTHAM: That's it. And a lot of people say, look, this is the U.S., where, you know, you have to have this sort of standards. You have to go with what we really truly believe in holding people. You know, if you're following the laws of war, then, yes, there is military detention. If you want to call the War on Terrorism a war, then, yes, you can hold them until the end of hostilities - while this is an open-minded war, if it is a war right now. But if they come back into America, it's not necessarily - I don't know - we have to - might have to reclassify them not as enemy combatants, just don't know. These are all the things that President Obama's taskforce is going to have to start reviewing and start making some decisions on and quickly.

NEARY: Yeah. Well, joining us now by phone from Washington is Congressman Lamar Smith from Texas. He is the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Welcome, Congressman Smith.

Representative LAMAR SMITH (Republican, Texas; House Committee on the Judiciary): Lynn, good to be with you and your listeners as well.

NEARY: Tell us about the new legislation that you have introduced regarding the Guantanamo detainees.

Rep. SMITH: Right. The legislation that I've introduced, called the Enemy Combatants Detention Review Act, basically says that the prisoners that are being held at Guantanamo Bay cannot be released into the United States. And the reason for that is because once these prisoners are on U.S. soil, then any federal judge can say they're entitled to all the constitutional rights, or some of the constitutional rights, that citizens get. And there is no country in the world that gives prisoners of war or enemy combatants those types of rights. And it would be very easy for a prisoner to form a shop, get before a federal judge who might be pliant, and suddenly they're released or suddenly they're given constitutional rights that, in my judgment, they're not entitled to. And so, we just want to keep them out of the United States where they literally might be released back into our communities.

NEARY: Yeah. But these - presumably, most of these or certainly a portion of these detainees will stand trial.

Rep. SMITH: Well, the problem with having them come to United States and stand in trial like citizens were is, again, then they may well be entitled to the constitutional rights that citizens have. But there's a real problem in removing them from the military tribunals, which is where enemy combatants should be tried, and regular U.S. courts. For example, how do you present evidence from the battlefield that might not be evident, or how do you find witnesses when you don't know who those soldiers were that witnessed the atrocity or the terrorist act, for example? Or how do you guarantee any of the constitutional rights that we allow citizens who are actually arrested in the United States? The battlefield situation is far different, in many cases, may be harder to prove, and you have all these evidentiary rules that would not be applicable to military combatants that would be applicable, say, to citizens. And you just can't take these prisoners, who many of them are would-be-terrorists, and transfer them to U.S. courts and say, hey, we're going to pretend you're a U.S. citizen. I just don't think that's good policy.

NEARY: Well, the president has ordered the Guantanamo prison to be closed in a year.

Rep. SMITH: Right. Well...

NEARY: So, if they're not on U.S. soil, where do you expect they would go?

Rep. SMITH: Yeah, he's got himself in a tough position because if they can only be transferred two places - one is to foreign countries who have no obligation to detain them and then it will - what - be possibly a matter of hours before they get back to the battlefield and might be trying to use terrorists acts to kill innocent American soldiers and our ally soldiers or they're transferred to U.S. soil, where suddenly they have constitutional rights that they're not entitled to. So, no good choices when it comes to what do you do with these terrorists that have been captured in the battle.

NEARY: But I also understand that in order to try and convince foreign countries to take some of these detainees, the U.S. has to show, I guess you would say, good faith by being willing to bring some to our soil as well.

Rep. SMITH: Well, that's a decision for the Obama administration. I do not think it's a good idea to bring these terrorists to U.S. soil, where they might be released by judges and free to roam our communities.

NEARY: Would you believe that President Obama is going to reverse or delay his order?

Rep. SMITH: Well, he has some time. He - it doesn't have to be closed for a year, and perhaps they'll come up with some solution. I think it's unlikely that very many countries are going to be willing to accept known terrorists. I just don't think the citizens of those countries are going to favor that, just like U.S. citizens would favor their release in our country. So, he will have to - you know, who knows whether he'll reverse course or not? I do know that the president himself has said it's a lot tougher question than he imagined when he was campaigning.

NEARY: All right. Well, thanks so much for joining us.

Rep. SMITH: Sure. Thank you.

NEARY: Representative Lamar Smith joined us by phone from Washington. He is the ranking Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee. Jackie Northam, you just listened to that conversation. And as you were saying earlier, President Obama sounds like he's going to have to expend a lot of political capital on this issue.

NORTHAM: Sure, sure. You know, the other thing, too, is that, you know, it doesn't actually have to - it hasn't been decided by any means that the federal courts or how these people are going to be tried. And so, you know, they could use a military courts martial. They would have to tweak the rules so it wouldn't just be, you know, a soldier. It would have to include unlawful combatants to be tried there. They could rework these military commissions, you know, which aren't the same rules as a federal court.

So, it's hard to say what the rights are going to be. And also they could create national-security courts to try these people. But you get a sense from this last interview that this is not an easy subject. And the opposition - you know, all we've been hearing about for years and years is, close the camp, bring them back, and all of a sudden it's - there's a lot of opposition to this now, and growing. And I must add, too, also by some of the 9/11 families; they're very upset that these whole trials finally were getting underway. And now they have just been, you know, frozen for several months, minimum.

NEARY: All right. Let's take a call now from Paul. Paul is calling from Topeka, Kansas. Hi, Paul.

PAUL (Caller): Good afternoon. How are you?

NEARY: I'm good. Thanks.

PAUL: Right. I'm calling about this biological research center, which is going to be put in Manhattan, which is less than an hour away from Topeka, and the federal facility in Leavenworth is less than an hour away also. That could be, I think, a prime target for the terrorists' supporters who could, I believe, still could come in to this country. And I think it's just - they're just - if they put them in Leavenworth, that's just too close to the new biological research center that Kansas State University...

NEARY: You're worried about becoming a target, is what you're saying, if they...

PAUL: Yeah, because exactly that - the biological research center facility that is being closed on that island and off in New York, they just recently announced that it was going to be moved here to Manhattan-Kansas on the campus of K-State. And I just think that's just too close. And I wonder if they've even given any thought to that or if they have, you know...

NEARY: Hard to - I don't know that we know that. I don't know that we could answer that question, and I'm just - I'm curious, Paul, did you - are you someone who thought that the Guantanamo prison should have been shut down in the first place?

PAUL: I don't believe it should have ever been there. I don't think that - I believe that all people - it doesn't matter whether they're citizens or not - if they are in the custody of our government, we should, as Americans and the American government, we should have respect for other people if we expect other people to respect us and respect themselves.

NEARY: So, you didn't really think it should be there in the first place. But now that Guantanamo exists and these detainees are there, you don't want them coming to your area.

PAUL: Well, my concern is the biological research.

NEARY: Right. I understand that.

PAUL: They're going to be putting in our way and are upwind from us.

NEARY: Yeah.

PAUL: In Topeka.

NEARY: It's a tough situation. It's a tough one.

PAUL: It is. And I think that could just - if they know that they're in Leavenworth, they could see possible targets within the area, within a geographical area, and I think that that K State, the facility there, would just be asking for trouble.

NEARY: All right. Thanks so much for your call, Paul.

PAUL: Thank you.

NEARY: Appreciate your calling in. And here's an email from Thomas in Louisville, Kentucky: The congressman said we cannot bring them here due to their rights being changed. We brought World War II German prisoners of war here. I know because they were kept by Bowman Field in Louisville, Kentucky, and at Fort Knox.

NORTHAM: Mm. Boy, that's a piece of history I'm not really familiar with, I'm afraid.

NEARY: Is the same? Are we talking about the same thing?

NORTHAM: Well, those were considered prisoners of war. The men at Guantanamo are not considered prisoners of war. They're considered enemy combatants, which is - you know, they weren't granted the rights of the Geneva Convention, in that the previous administration, the Bush administration, really split hairs on this in order to push through the policies and certainly the way they were going to try them down at Guantanamo Bay. You know, Lynn, I sat, you know, down at those trials for a long time and you watched how they tried to get these military commissions, the tribunals, up and running and all the problems that they had with them and all the legal challenges along the way.

And that - there are a lot of people, they said, you know, maybe this is still the way to go and that President Obama might go back to that. It'll be interesting to see over the next year just how much of the present policies he does retain and how many he will throw out. Because a lot of people say there was such opposition to - the implementation was so bad that it just - it put a terrible stain on everything, but there might actually be something still there. So, trying them and how they're going to try them, that's still very much open, and where they're going to put them as well. And you know, hopefully, they can try and get rid of them, some of them overseas.

NEARY: Yeah. But again, in order for foreign countries to take these prisoners, they want United States to take some as well.

NORTHAM: Well, they...

NEARY: Isn't it...

NORTHAM: They do. I spoke with one of the main fellows who is dealing with this is John Ballenger. He was a key legal adviser to Condoleezza Rice, and he said he used to go these negotiations with Europeans, and the first thing they said was, well, are you willing to take? Is the U.S. willing to take any of them? And he said it was just a show-stopper. How can you say no? So, there is a feeling that the U.S. should at least take some of these to get the ball rolling.

NEARY: I mean, and is in part what President Obama has ordered, is that in part geared to an overseas audience as much as it is...?

NORTHAM: Yeah, and there's a lot of good - international goodwill towards the new president. There certainly that. And just today, the European Union decided that they were going to - collectively, that they were going to try and look at this again, this whole situation, and take more. But what they want, at the end of the day, is they want to get down to Guantanamo and interview these detainees before they agree taking any of them. So - and as I said, collectively - individually, some of them don't think it's such a good idea.

NEARY: Jackie Northam is NPR's national security correspondent, and you are listening to Talk of the Nation from NPR News. We're going to go now to JR in Jackson, Wyoming. Hi, JR.

JR (Caller): Good afternoon.

NEARY: Go ahead.

JR: You know, it sounds - I don't thinks it's redundant, but it's pretty clear that if ever there was a case for NIMBYism, nobody anywhere in United States is going to want these kinds of people anywhere close to them. It's very clear how these kinds of terrorists operate. They'll - it doesn't matter what cost they have to expend to get some of their brethren back, and so no one is going to want them anywhere remotely close to any kind of housing or anything. The only possibility is - because we're already hearing that other countries don't want to take these people either - is to put it in a place where there is absolutely nothing, like the desert of Nevada or - I don't know. Alaska is an awful beautiful place, maybe not up there. But it appears that it's going to the sole responsibility of the United States to deal with these terrorists. And we've already seen and read and heard that many of them - maybe not a huge number, but many of them - are already returning to what they did before they were incarcerated.

NEARY: Well, Jackie Northam, I think, addressed that earlier, and thank you for your call, JR. I'm going to ask to Jackie to respond, again, to that point that JR made, which is, are they going back, but also to the larger point of the resistance that we are hearing, at least in this particular moment.

NORTHAM: Oh, I though the comment that JR had, and he made it - he said it a couple of times: These kinds of people, nobody wants them close to them. We really still don't know. Only three people have gone to trial. Twenty-four altogether have been charged. Two of those people have been sent back home. One of them was released, David Hicks. He's walked - you know, he's back, trying to build the life back in Australia. And Hamdan, who will be released soon back in Yemen. We don't know. We were told that the 500 that the U.S. released were the worst of the worst, and yet, they've all gone back home. They've all been released. You know, we - there's, you know, 160 that haven't been charged, haven't been tried.

We're going on - now, please don't give me wrong. I'm not saying - I think there are people down there that should never be - see the light of day again. There's no question, but it's been wrong all the way. You know, you've got Khalid Sheik Mohammad, the one of 9/11 guys. Yes, he's, you know, he's pleading guilty to absolutely everything and that. We don't know how many people were tortured to get this information. We just don't know. So, it's very hard to say "these kind of people" because we have no sense. We've just gone on the word of the Bush administration and what we were told. And again, you know, a lot of the stuff hasn't come true; you know, 500 people are out roaming around.

NEARY: All right. Let's take one more call if we can, from Ken in Liberty, Missouri. Ken, go ahead.

KEN (Caller): Yes. I'd like to disagree with your guest that - respectfully disagree your guest. Hamid Karzai has made it crystal clear, along with his political opponents and his political allies, that they want the prisoners that were caught in that country, they want them back. And first of all, and second of all, they're not prisoners of war because we never declared war. We never declared war. U.S. law is crystal clear on that. They're this new thing that have been labeled enemy combatants, and there is no legal definition for that. So, that's where we're at. I think - I really think that the best thing is to comply with Hamid Karzai and return all his prisoners to him and return all the Iraqi prisoners to Iraq. And these, again, these countries have made it clear that, hey, we want these people back and we want to try them.

NORTHAM: There are some countries, though, where the U.S. doesn't want to send them back. If you looked at the Uighurs, Muslims from the western part of China, the U.S. will not send them back at all. There's fear of persecution or worse. Algeria, there seems to be problems, fear of sending some of the detainees back. A lot of these countries simply don't want them. Yes, Afghanistan does, and a large number of the remaining detainees are Afghani. The largest number are Yemenis. But you know, it's one of those things, is that a lot of countries don't want them or the detainees' adoptive countries don't want them. So, people who perhaps fled Algeria or Libya and were living in Germany, they can't go back to their home country. And certainly, Germany doesn't them, not at this point, anyway.

NEARY: All right. Jackie, thanks so much for joining us.

NORTHAM: Thank you.

NEARY: Jackie Northam joined us in Studio 3A. She covers national-security issues for NPR. And coming up, the Pope's decision to reinstate four bishops, including one who's denied the Holocaust; we'll talk about that controversy next. I'm Lynn Neary. It's Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

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