High-Level Officials Hold Meeting on Guantanamo

Associated Press
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Top officials of the Obama administration met privately yesterday to discuss how to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. held the first Cabinet-level meeting of President Obama's Guantanamo Bay task force. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, CIA Director Leon Panetta and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III were among the participants.

Obama has pledged to close the U.S. military facility in Cuba within a year, and officials must decide, among other things, which terrorism suspects to ship to other countries and which to try in U.S. courts.

At yesterday's meeting, the group discussed standards for reviewing cases, which detainee decisions will get priority and what has been done so far.

According to an official familiar with the process, detainees are being grouped into categories, and government officials from multiple agencies are being organized into teams to examine particular categories of detainees.

The review teams would make recommendations to the task force. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are private.

If a review team cannot reach a consensus on a particular detainee, the case will go to the Cabinet-level officials for a decision, the official said.

Holder, who visited the Navy base last month, has said that each case needs to be reviewed separately.

In one of his first official acts as president, Obama signed an executive order giving his administration a year to close the facility, which holds about 240 people. One Guantanamo Bay detainee has been released under Obama's watch, an Ethiopian man sent to England.

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