National Security Brief: Obama Admin Looks To South Carolina For Gitmo Detainee Military Trials

President Obama on Thursday announced initial steps his administration will take in a renewed effort to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, including transferring some detainees and appointing a special envoy tasked with coordinating Gitmo’s closure.

And a senior administration official told the Wall Street Journal that a leading candidate for military commissions — which are currently being held at Guantanamo — is the Naval Brig at Charleston, S.C.

“Charleston has been used to hold other terrorism suspects, and has been considered for other military terrorism trials in the past,” the Journal notes. “Still, officials said no formal decision has been made and the Pentagon will review a variety of possible locations.”

Meanwhile, Gitmo spokesman Navy Captain Robert Durand said detainees there watched the president’s speech yesterday. “Detainees follow all coverage of Guantanamo closely, including today’s speech, and the post-speech commentary, analysis and editorials,” he said. “There is interest and discussion, but no discernible reaction.”

Detainee lawyers have said that one way to help end the Guantanamo hunger strike is for President Obama to start releasing detainees.

In other news:

  • The New York Times reports: The Syrian government has agreed to participate in an international peace conference coordinated by Russia and the United States, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports: The disqualification of two influential politicians from Iran’s presidential race has sparked an outpouring of criticism by some prominent Iranians who said the decision would hurt the credibility of the election and tighten the circle of power around Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
  • USA Today reports: Pentagon propaganda programs are inadequately tracked, their impact is unclear, and the military doesn’t know if it is targeting the right foreign audiences, according to a government report obtained by USA TODAY.
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