The Washington Post reports that the Department of Defense may allow families of Guantanamo Bay detainees to visit them in the prison, after discussing options for a potential visitation program with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
After hearing about these talks, some Republicans have attempted to block the access, with Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon of California, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, inserting language in the annual legislation authorizing activities of the Pentagon that would prevent such visits. However, a later version of the bill would only prevent the Department of Defense funding such visits.
The Pentagon will not discuss any such program and only states that "we are constantly reviewing detention policies with regard to our detention operations globally."
In response to reports of DOD considering authorizing families to visit detainees, Rep. Peter T. King of New York, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen demanding an explanation. From the letter:
As Chairman of the House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee, and the Representative from the Third District of New York, approximately 150 of whose constituents were murdered on September 11, 2001, I am gravely concerned with the potential damage to our national security posed by the prospect of the detained terrorists at Guantanamo Bay receiving family or conjugal visits.
The letter outlines a number of potential issues that may arise as a result of this decision and requests a reply by May 20, 2011.