The Bush administration is nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and move the terror suspects there to military prisons elsewhere, The Associated Press has learned.
President Bush's national security and legal advisers are expected to discuss the move at the White House on Friday and, for the first time, it appears a consensus is developing, senior administration officials said Thursday.
The advisers will consider a new proposal to shut the center and transfer detainees to one or more Defense Department facilities, including the maximum security military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where they could face trial, said the officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal deliberations.
They could still block the proposal, but pressure to close Guantanamo has been building since a Supreme Court decision last year that found a previous system for prosecuting enemy combatants illegal. Recent rulings by military judges threw out charges against two terrorism suspects under a new tribunal scheme.
Those decisions have dealt a blow to the administration's efforts to begin prosecuting dozens of Guantanamo detainees regarded as the nation's most dangerous terror suspects.
In Congress, recently introduced legislation would require Guantanamo's closure. One measure would designate Fort Leavenworth as the new detention facility.