Detainees face uncertainty as U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan

Feb. 26, 2014 at 10:43 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A small number of U.S. detainees in Afghanistan are in legal limbo as Washington works toward ending its military presence by the end of 2014, officials say.

Several dozen foreign fighters detained at a prison near Bagram air base have been repatriated or resettled, but the Obama administration is uncertain how to deal with a handful of prisoners, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Afghanistan says it will no longer hold foreign detainees.

This select group is suspected of war crimes or considered to still be terrorism threats. Because they were captured on the battlefield, they can be tried in military tribunals rather than civilian courts.

While Congress has restricted many terrorism suspects to detention at Guantanamo Bay, that is not the case for the detainees in Afghanistan.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., says he can envision creating an "alternative venue" to Guantanamo Bay.

"You'd have to convince me the candidate for trial was a good one and the place you're picking is secure and what do you do if there's a conviction," he said.

The Charleston naval brig in his home state is a possible site, Graham said.

However, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said the Guantanamo facility is the "logical" place to hold the detainees. The most serious offenders should remain there if they are convicted, he said.

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