White House to Authorize Indefinite Detention
Draft order part of plan to close Gitmo, administration says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2010 1:20 AM CST
Updated Dec 22, 2010 7:57 AM CST
US military guards walk within the Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base, Cuba.    (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

(Newser) – The Obama administration is preparing a draft executive order to formalize indefinite detention of Guantanamo detainees without trial—but officials stress that the order is a key part of its plan to close the facility. The order—which would apply to 48 of the 174 detainees still held at Gitmo—allows for what the administration calls "prolonged detention," but also permits detainees to challenge their status, the Washington Post reports.

An inter-agency task force has decided that the 48 detainees are either too dangerous to be freed or can't be brought to trial because of security concerns. Administration officials emphasize that indefinite detention has long been a part of the plan to close Guantanamo. The defense authorization bill currently before the Senate, however, would cripple the plan by banning the transfer of Gitmo detainees to the US for any reason, including civilian trials. "If it passes, it is the final, decisive blow to the president's plan," a Human Rights Watch spokesman says.