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US ready to shut terrorist prison.

THE Bush administration is nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba and move terror suspects from there to military prisons on US soil, it emerged last night.

President George Bush's top national security and legal advisers are expected to discuss the move at the White House today.

It appears a consensus is developing for the first time among Mr Bush's inner circle, three senior administration officials said yesterday.

They will consider a new proposal to shut the centre and transfer detainees to one or more US Defence Department facilities, including the maximum security military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where they could face trial.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Peter Pace and Vice President Dick Cheney are likely to attend today's meeting.

Washington has previously said the controversial facility was likely to stay open beyond the end of Mr Bush's administration in January 2009.

Campaigning groups have condemned US plans for military tribunals at the camp as well as conditions inside Guantanamo.

Amnesty International has said confessions made at Guantanamo should carry a health warning.

Clive Stafford Smith, founder of Reprieve, said allegations of mistreatment within Guantanamo jeopardised any chance of suspects ever facing a civilian trial.

The British Government has long made clear it believes the facility should be closed, as has the United Nations. The facility was opened to take in suspects following the September 11 attacks in 2001 and the so-called War on Terror.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 22, 2007
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