Charlie Savage, in the NYTimes:
The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved a bill that would significantly relax legal restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, giving President Obama much greater flexibility as he attempts to revive his effort to close the facility.
Approved late last week by the committee in closed-door proceedings, the bill – the National Defense Authorization Act for 2014 – includes provisions lifting a ban on bringing detainees into the United States, according to the text of the bill made public late Monday.
If the bill were to become law, the Pentagon could send detainees to the United States for medical treatment that would be too expensive to provide at the base, for continued detention in a different prison, or for prosecution. The bill would also streamline and ease statutory limits on transferring detainees to other countries.
The Guantánamo provisions, inserted into the bill by Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, still have a long way to go before becoming law. A committee news release on Friday that described the bill in broad outlines said that the members had agreed to debate the detainee provisions on the Senate floor and no votes were taken on those provisions on the panel.
Moreover, a rival version of the defense authorization bill that has already been approved by the Republican-led House of Representatives keeps the existing transfer restrictions intact – including a flat ban on transfers into the United States for any purpose – and tightens then in one respect by barring any repatriations to Yemen…
Under the Senate bill, the defense secretary would instead need find only that steps have been taken to substantially mitigate any risk that a released detainee would engage in terrorist activity after being freed and that such a transfer was in the national security interests of the United States – the same more flexible standard he must meet under current law to issue a waiver.
The transfers would be exempted from that process for detainees who have served out their sentences from a military commission trial, who have been acquitted in such a trial or who have been approved for release by a “periodic review board” – a parole-board system Mr. Obama ordered created in March 2011 but which has been delayed….
More at the link. Maybe the GOP’s fiercely feral children in the House will be distracted by more media-friendly firefights (the immigration bill, the farm bill, the search for Snowden, et al) just long enough that some of the Gitmo prisoners might be released short of starving themselves to death?