Berkeley Council To Vote On Inviting Guantanamo Detainees

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US Military Police escort detainee during transport, Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base, Cuba (AP)

US Military Police escort detainee during transport, Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base, Cuba (AP)

BERKELEY (KCBS/BCN) – The City of Berkeley was set to vote Tuesday night on a proposal to invite some former Guantanamo Bay detainees to resettle there.

The resolution, which is being proposed by the city’s Peace and Justice Commission, states that Berkeley should invite detainees who have been cleared of wrongdoing to move to the city because “the city has a longstanding policy in support of peace and justice, including previously welcoming refugees from other countries who unjustly suffered imprisonment, torture and related traumatic experiences.”

Supporters say it’s one way to do right by those who were wrongly detained by the federal government.

Commission member Rita Maran said this would give the city of Berkeley the opportunity to offer to open its doors as it has done before to people that have been thoroughly researched and shown to be “cleared”, so to speak.

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier Comments:

Tuesday night’s vote by the city council would allow the city to begin the process of inviting two former Guantanamo Bay detainees to live in the city. Right now former detainees are in limbo. They have no passports, visas, money or home since returning to their native lands would put their lives in jeopardy.

However, City Manager Phil Kamlarz recommended the City Council take no action on the resolution at this time because federal law “explicitly prohibits the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S.”

In a letter to the council, Kamlarz said, “There is reportedly bipartisan opposition to moving detainees into the U.S. and there is every indication that the (Obama) administration will be required to have a plan for trial and/or settlement of detainees.”

“The current lack of federal consensus suggests it may be some time before there is a clear process of detainee resettlement,” he said.

The former detainees would live with local families and non-profit agencies would help with resettlement. It’s not clear how much support the idea has since one city councilman, Gordon Wozniak told the San Francisco Chronicle that Berkeley has enough problems without taking on the plight of tortured terror suspects.

Berkeley isn’t the first city to offer refuge to former detainees. Several cities in Massachusetts have already passed similar resolutions.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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