WASHINGTON - US officials are considering a plan to move Guantanamo Bay "war on terror" detainees to a special US prison camp that would also contain courtrooms and long-term living quarters, the Washington Post reported Monday.
The facility would be jointly run by the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security, with each responsible for different inmates, the Post reported, citing unnamed administration officials.
The site would include courtrooms for federal criminal trials and military commissions to prosecute terror suspects; a maximum security lockdown for prisoners held in indefinite detention and those serving out their terms; and living quarters for detainees cleared for release but who have no country willing to accept them, the Post reported.
An unnamed government official told the newspaper that the site is one idea being considered by a task force looking into US detention policy, but has not yet reached the level of recommendation.
Sites under consideration include the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas military prison, and a maximum-security prison in Michigan currently scheduled to be closed, according to The Post.
President Barack Obama is facing mounting challenges over how and where to try or release detainees as he seeks to meet his January deadline to close Guantanamo, the US naval base in southeastern Cuba where 229 terror suspects are still held.
Since January, 11 detainees have been transferred from Guantanamo, including four to their home countries, and another was flown to New York, where he faces criminal charges in US federal court.
The proposal is already generating opposition in the United States.
"Closing Guantanamo will be an empty gesture if we just reopen it on shore under a different name," said Jameel Jaffer, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Any arrangement "that allows indefinite detention without charge or trial will leave in place the problems that led President Obama to order the prison closed in the first place," he said in a statement.
Suspected terrorists "should be charged and tried in federal courts that adhere to the rule of law and due process," Jaffer said.
"A new system of indefinite detention without charge or trial would be not only unconstitutional but unnecessary as well," he said.
And two Republican legislators from Kansas, Senator Sam Brownback and Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, have scheduled a press conference Monday in Leavenworth city to "discuss opposition to any efforts to move detainees to Fort Leavenworth," Brownback said in a statement.