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WikiLeaks's release of documents shows struggle to relocate Guantanamo detainees

Sunday, November 28, 2010; 10:41 PM

In a March 2009 meeting between John Brennan, President Obama's principal counterterrorism adviser, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Brennan carried a letter from the president expressing concern about the 99 Yemenis remaining at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The White House had hoped Saudi Arabia would accept some of them into its rehabilitation program, an ambition that faltered along with the plan to close Guantanamo Bay.

At one point, Abdullah proposed implanting the detainees with electronic chips, as is done "with horses and falcons." Brennan said such a proposal would face legal hurdles, noting that "horses don't have good lawyers."

Other discussions about Guantanamo were much less lighthearted. During a meeting between U.S. and Chinese ambassadors in Kyrgyzstan in early 2009, the Chinese diplomat said it was a "slap in the face" that the United States was not returning Chinese Uighur detainees to their homeland but was instead planning to resettle them in Germany, which never happened.

In a meeting between U.S. and German diplomats in November 2009, German officials said accepting Uighurs would be "too difficult" but that Germany could probably accept two or three others. The cable noted that "the reluctance about Uighurs is due to the expected negative reaction of the Chinese government."

- Peter Finn

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