|© AFP/File Paul J. Richards|
WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama’s Republican foes unveiled legislation to toughen rules on the detention and trials of suspected extremists held at the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison.
The move came one day after Obama by presidential order lifted a ban on new military trials for detainees held at the US naval base in Cuba, apparently conceding the facility he has vowed to close will not be emptied anytime soon.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, who led the effort, cited “serious concerns” about Obama’s decree that detainees would have the right to a periodic review of the reasons for their continued detention.
The Republican bill would deny detainees access to legal counsel for such reviews, and stipulates that a decision on whether to transfer or release a detainee must be tied to the threat individual is seen to pose to US interests as well as the particular country to which they could be sent.
The measure also permanently forbids the transfer to US soil of all individuals held now or in the future based on the 2001 congressional authorization to use military force against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
And it prohibits the transfer or release of those held at Guantanamo Bay or Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan unless the US defense secretary certifies that the host country meets certain security criteria.
It also would bar the transfer or release of detainees to any country where there has been a confirmed case of detainee recidivism unless the defense secretary certifies that the transfer is in the US national security interest.
The Republican plan puts the defense secretary, rather than the US attorney general, in charge of deciding whether to keep a detainee in military custody.
“America needs and deserves a careful and comprehensive plan dealing with law of war detention for terrorists,” McKeon said in a statement outlining the legislation.
The proposal would also forbid relatives of detainees from visiting them at Guantanamo, and would block funding for building any facilities on US soil to house Guantanamo detainees.
And where military jurors had to accept a plea of guilty to a capital offense, a judge will now do so, while the jury members will only vote to approve the death sentence at the end of the sentencing phase, officials said.
Veteran US Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was to unveil companion legislation on Thursday, joined by four fellow Republicans and independent Senator Joe Lieberman.
© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license