Work continues on new Guantanamo prison facility
(New York Daily News) - The 450 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay won't be going anywhere soon - except to a new Gitmo jail under construction - despite the Supreme Court ruling Thursday barring their trials before military tribunals.
"Nobody gets a `get-out-of-jail-free' card," said White House Press Secretary Tony Snow. "This will not mean closing down Guantanamo."
Or, as President Bush stressed, the ruling "won't cause killers to be put out on the street."
Snow also said that the prisoners could be held longer than they would have if the military trials had been allowed to proceed. "That possibly could be the case, yes," Snow said, reports Trend.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., said the President must work out new rules for those he wants to put on trial - in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and U.S. military law.
While the President negotiates with Congress on the new rules, construction workers from a Halliburton Corp. subsidiary were preparing the new $30 million maximum-security jail at the naval base on Cuba's southeastern coast for an August opening.
Before the Supreme Court ruling, Bush had designated only 14 of the 450 prisoners at Guantanamo for trial. A senior administration official said that formal charges were being considered against "40 to 80" others.
At least 120 inmates have been designated for release, but they remain at Guantanamo as the administration seeks to get their home countries to take them back.
Other prisoners are in legal limbo. Many are deemed by the administration to be too dangerous to be released, although evidence was lacking to bring them to trial.
Congressional leaders and legal experts said the court ruling would lead to stepped-up diplomatic efforts by the administration to find countries that will accept the prisoners.
"There could be accelerated efforts to return them to their native countries," said Sen. John Warner, R-Va., head of the Armed Services Committee.
"I think we'll see an accelerated return of detainees to their home states, or some state that will accept them, and a few will be kept in Gitmo while the administration tries to figure out what to do with them," said Gary Solis, of Georgetown University. "The few that we keep may be around for a long, long time," Solis said.