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Guantanamo meeting canceled after report closure is near

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/06/21/guantanamo/ Guantanamo meeting canceled after report closure is near POSTED: 11:02 p.m. EDT, June 21, 2007 Story
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 21, 2007
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      http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/06/21/guantanamo/

      Guantanamo meeting canceled after report closure is
      near
      POSTED: 11:02 p.m. EDT, June 21, 2007
      Story Highlights
      • Friday meeting about Guantanamo canceled; no word on
      reason for cancellation
      • AP reported Thursday the Bush administration
      "nearing decision" to close center
      • Pentagon and White House deny any plans to shut it
      down
      • There are about 375 detainees at Guantanamo Bay,
      according to the Pentagon

      WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A White House meeting planned for
      Friday about the future of the Guantanamo Bay
      detention facility has been canceled after The
      Associated Press reported the Bush administration was
      "nearing a decision" to close the center.

      National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe
      said there would be no meeting Friday, but he would
      not comment on the reasons for the cancellation

      Earlier Thursday, AP reported that officials were
      close to a decision to shut down the facility in
      Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that the administration had
      scheduled a meeting to discuss a proposal to transfer
      the detainees to other military prisons.

      Officials from the White House, the Pentagon and the
      Justice and State departments denied the AP report.

      "The administration is not 'nearing a decision' on
      changing our long-held policy to shut down Gitmo in a
      responsible way," said White House spokeswoman Dana
      Perino. "There is no meeting tomorrow."

      Johndroe said the president has "long expressed a
      desire to close" the detention center, but "a number
      of steps need to take place before that can happen."

      Those steps include establishing military commissions
      and sending home the detainees who have been cleared
      for release, he said.

      "These and other steps have not been completed. No
      decisions on the future of Guantanamo Bay are
      imminent, and there will not be a White House meeting
      tomorrow," he said.

      Johndroe later told CNN that a meeting had been set
      but was canceled.
      Official: We all want to see Guantanamo closed as soon
      as possible

      A senior State Department official told CNN that the
      administration was not changing its course on
      Guantanamo and that regular, "high-level" discussions
      on the facility take place.

      "We are working hard on this," the official said,
      adding that the administration was "in the process of
      negotiating agreements" on those at Guantanamo Bay
      both to transfer them to other facilities and to put
      them on trial. "We all want to see it [Guantanamo Bay]
      closed as soon as possible."

      There are about 375 detainees held at Guantanamo Bay,
      according to the Pentagon. Among those are 14
      "high-level detainees" formerly held in secret CIA
      prisons, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the
      suspected mastermind behind the September 11, 2001,
      attacks on the United States.

      Senior administration officials said the facility will
      eventually be shut down.

      "It's just a matter of figuring out how to get there,"
      one official said. "It's a complicated, complex
      issue."

      Officials said there have been numerous discussions on
      the issue involving Cabinet-level officials but none
      yet involving President Bush.

      One item being worked on is reaching agreement with
      Afghanistan to build a prison, where several dozen
      detainees could be transferred, officials said.

      "There are 375 detainees," one official said."If we
      transferred the Afghan prisoners, that would put us at
      less than 100 at the camp. This would be a reasonable
      number. It would allow us to then figure out who to
      try and get the military commissions up and running."

      "But we still need to build the prison, train the
      guards and transfer people. All of this takes time,"
      the official said.

      Another issue, the officials said, is to establish
      working agreements with foreign governments to take
      remaining detainees to countries where they would be
      treated humanely but not released prematurely, which
      they said has been a problem in the past.

      CNN's Suzanne Malveaux, Zain Verjee and Jamie McIntyre
      contributed to this report.
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