World News Brief, Thursday December 17

Obama moves on Guantanamo, Amnesty International says he's merely "changing the zip code"; US and Russia in nuclear breakthrough; Thai authorities seize North Korean weapons cache; Iran launches new missile; and more

Top of the Agenda: Obama Order on Guantanamo Detainees

US President Barack Obama made headway on closing the controversial military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, ordering (NYT) a limited number of Guantanamo detainees to be housed in an Illinois prison that the federal government will buy.

The move would still require congressional approval, since Congress does not currently allow Guantanamo detainees to be brought onto American soil unless they are being prosecuted, and some of the prisoners would be held indefinitely. It is not clear how many of the roughly 210 Guantanamo detainees would be sent to Thomson Correctional Center or when, but several administration officials estimated the transfers to total roughly one hundred detainees. Critics worry that those prisoners could be freed inside the United States under habeas corpus petitions, but administration officials said any such detainees would be transferred out of the country or brought to trial.

Human rights groups say the relocation of suspects still violates (BBC) the legal principle that people cannot be held without charge or trial. Amnesty International said in a statement: "The only thing that President Obama is doing with this announcement is changing the ZIP code of Guantanamo."

Another part of Obama's plan to close Guantanamo includes the possible release of 116 detainees, as recommended by Justice Department prosecutors. The administration also said last month that some suspects will be tried (WashPost) in New York federal court and others by the military.


The Christian Science Monitor reports that bringing detainees onto U.S. soil will likely broaden their legal rights, though it is unclear to what degree.


A CFR Backgrounder examines the legal and security issues surrounding the closure of Guantanamo.


PACIFIC RIM: North Korean Arms Cache Seizure

The Thai government says it will request (GlobalTimes) money from the United Nations to destroy the cache of weapons seized from a plane arriving from North Korea, as governments linked to the incident deny involvement.

Burma: Burma's junta allowed (AFP) detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to meet with three senior members of her party who are in poor health.



Iran successful in missile test.
Russia, US close to new START treaty.

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