- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that even after the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. will continue to hold indefinitely a number of terror suspects whose cases will never go to trial and who cannot be sent to any other country.

Mr. Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the detainees who cannot be released will have their cases periodically reviewed to determine whether they must continue to be held without trial. He did not specify how many of the roughly 230 detainees remaining at U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would fall into this category.

President Obama has signed an executive order for the prison to close with a year and put in Mr. Holder in charge of a task force to make it happen. Critics say the prison has become a symbol of American excesses in the fight against terrorism, but closing it will apparently not change the reality that some detainees will continue to be held.

Mr. Holder told the Judiciary panel that the task force he leads is making progress and has reviewed about half the detainees’ cases.

In response to questions from Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, Mr. Holder agreed that about one-quarter of the detainees — between 50 and 60 — may go on trial in federal courts.

Earlier this month, the first Guantanamo detainee was brought to the U.S. to face charges in federal court.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani has pleaded not guilty to charges that he participated in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. Mr. Ghailani, who has been under indictment since 2001, had been at Guantanamo for nearly three years.

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