Closing Gitmo: Feds Eye State and Military Prisons for Detainees

Feds consider list of state and military prisons to house dozens of detainees.

ByABC News
November 16, 2009, 1:21 PM

Nov. 16, 2009— -- As the Obama administration's January deadline to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay looms, officials are developing plans for the more than 200 detainees still held there, including their possible distribution to civilian and military prisons across the country.

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday the United States would bring five Gitmo detainees, including four alleged 9/11 conspirators, to New York City to stand trial in federal court. Holder also said that five suspects would be tried before revamped military commissions.

Roughly 40 to 50 more prisoners from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba will be transferred to the United States, prosecuted in federal court or before a military tribunal, officials say. And at least 100 detainees have been approved for transfer to other countries.

The United States is actively negotiating additional transfer arrangements in pursuit of its self-imposed deadline, administration officials said.

That leaves 70 to 80 men considered too dangerous for release but whom the administration neither plans to charge in federal or military courts nor transfer to foreign countries.

The hope is that all but 10 to 30 of the unresolved cases will eventually be brought for prosecution or transferred abroad, officials said. A number of Yemeni and Afghan detainees are expected to remain indefinitely in "enemy combatant" status.

Those prisoners, officials say, will likely be distributed to several prisons and military installations throughout the country with none of the facilities having to completely shoulder the load.

Among the leading state prisons being considered to house detainees is Illinois' Thomson Correctional Center, a maximum-security prison complex 150 miles south of Chicago.

A review team from the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Prisons, and U.S. Marshalls Service is visiting the Thomson Center today.