White House Facing Rebellion on Hill on Plan for Detainees (or Lack Thereof)

By Caitlin Taylor

May 20, 2009 9:06am

Uncertainty and discomfort about President Obama’s plans for the 240 or so detainees at Guantanamo will come to a head today when Senate Democrats vote to block $80 million the President requested to close Gitmo.

So far, per judges’ orders, two detainees have been released to other countries where they are now free: Binyam Mohammed in the UK and Lakhdar Boumediene in France.

Thirty others have been cleared for release.

Around 80 will be prosecuted.

The White House has left open the possibility that some detainees will be detained indefinitely, but we don’t know what the plan is for the 130 others.

Will they be sent to the Saudi Jihadi rehab program that has had such mixed results, which Defense Secretary Gates expressed interest in not long ago?

And what of the Uighurs, who were ordered released by the DC District Court of Appeals? The Chinese Muslims were trained in Afghanistan by al Qaeda before 9/11.

"The best indication we have so far as we look through their files is that they went to Afghanistan, not to take up arms against the U.S. – and this is not to excuse that – but to oppose the Chinese government," Attorney General Eric Holder told a House committee.

The Financial Times reports today that the President’s Detainee Task Force will recommend that the US accept two of the 17 Uighurs into the general populace.

"They accepted training from Al Qaeda and as a result they have taken part in terrorism," Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, told George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. "I don’t believe they should come to the United States."

Democrats want assurances would not end up on American soil, even in maximum security prisons.

"We will never allow terrorists to be released into the United States," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said yesterday. "We don’t have a plan."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs tried to depict this stark disagreement in the best possible terms.

"We agree with Congress that before resources (are committed) that they should receive a more detailed plan," Gibbs said Tuesday.

And the rhetoric from Congress, points out Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, isn’t helping matters.

"You can’t argue these people are too dangerous to be released in the United States and then ask Germany to take them, that doesn’t work," Malinowski told the Financial Times.

- jpt

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