Congress took a step toward President Barack Obama’s goal of closing Guantanamo Bay prison on Tuesday when it cleared a measure allowing foreign terrorism suspects held there to face prosecution in the United States.
The Senate’s 79 to 19 vote removed one of the many roadblocks the government faces as it tries to empty the internationally condemned prison by January. The measure, included in a $42.8 billion bill to fund the Homeland Security Department, passed the House of Representatives last week and now heads to the White House for Obama to sign into law.
…The compromise passed by both chambers of Congress would allow the government to bring Guantanamo inmates to U.S. soil only if they are going to face trial in American courts. The administration would have to present a risk assessment and give 45 days’ notice. Those cleared of wrongdoing without trial could not be resettled within the United States.
Kirk Lippold, former commander of the USS Cole, said transferring prisoners to U.S. soil would make the country less safe.
“By prosecuting terrorists in open courts, the president will compromise classified intelligence that Americans have paid dearly to obtain for our safety,” said Lippold, now with the advocacy group Military Families United.
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