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No Word On Gitmo

That was quick. Yesterday, the AP reported that administration officials were going to meet today to discuss the future of Guantanamo, with a "consensus... developing" to shutter the facility. But, according to today's Washington Post, after the AP broke the story, the issue "was removed from the agenda." And, judging from the Post story, it doesn't seem like there's anything nearing a consensus just yet.

The administration could still end up closing Guantanamo, but it's not at all clear what would happen after that. Gates and Rice have recommended that the detainees be transferred to American soil, but that would give the suspects clear due process rights--something that Cheney and the Justice Department have "vehemently opposed." As much as I'd like to think otherwise, it's hard to see the vice-president losing that battle.

It still seems much more likely, as Marty Lederman wrote last month, that some of the detainees would just be shuffled to sites abroad--the Bagram internment facility in Afghanistan, say--where there's even less oversight. Or sent to countries like Libya, where they could well be tortured. By itself, closing Guantanamo certainly wouldn't resolve any of the broader questions about the United States' far-flung enemy-combatant detention system--or about whether the president should have nearly limitless authority to fight the "war on terror." Sure, it would be great PR--and that's no small thing--but what about beyond that?

--Bradford Plumer