Summit Notebook

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Napolitano defends bringing Guantanamo detainees to U.S.

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Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defended the Obama administration’s plans to bring terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United States — countering critics who questioned whether it would create security risks.

“There’s no question in my mind that those detainees who would be moved to the United States would be held in such a fashion that they would not be any threat to public safety, and I say that as a former prosecutor,” Napolitano said in an interview during the Reuters Washington Summit. She served as a U.S. attorney in Arizona during the Clinton administration.

President Barack Obama has pledged to close the controversial prison by Jan. 22, 2010, including bringing some of the terrorism suspects to U.S. soil for trial in military commissions or U.S. criminal courts. There have been questions and doubts about whether his goal can be achieved because of political, legal and logistical complications.

Napolitano held out hope that the administration could meet the fast-approaching deadline: “I would hope so.” She declined to comment on the likely location of where the detainees could be held in the United States.

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