Armed Forces

Obama's Guantanamo Task Force Mulls Fate of Chinese Detainees

President Obama's Guantanamo task force, which will recommend where the 240 detainees will go once the prison closes next year, are likely to advise that some of the prisoners from China be settled in the U.S., a person familiar with the review process told FOX News.

Members of the task force met with 17 Uyghurs held at the prison last week and quizzed them for at least an hour on where they would like to go, their feelings about the U.S. and their training in Afghanistan, multiple sources confirmed to FOX News.

The Uyghurs are Chinese Muslims who were picked up in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

The Uyghur community in Washington, D.C., has offered to settle the men. The prisoners' status in this country, according to two sources, would be determined by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.

Tension exists over the Uyghurs and how "safe" they are. One source says at least six have a violent history at Guantanamo, including attacks on guards -- attempting to break arms -- and "bodily fluid cocktails." 

It could be known as early as next month where some of the detainees will be sent, in part because it will take six to eight months to make the necessary improvements to prisons in this country, given that the administration wants to try some detainees here. The administration wants to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in January.

An attorney for the Uyghurs, Sabin Willett, confirmed to FOX News that the review team met with the 17 detainees last week. He said he did not know about any timeline for their release, but he has urged the Justice Department to review the Uyghurs' cases first and to release at least some of them into the U.S., for two reasons: 

1) "The Chinese diplomatic problem makes the Uyghurs a tough sell to our allies. It's impossible to move forward with the allies without doing it ourselves." The Justice Department "nodded politely" at this, he said.

2) The Uyghurs' case has already gone through the court system, and now the Supreme Court is considering whether to hear their case. This adds some urgency to reviewing the Uyghurs' cases sooner rather than later.

All in all, Willett said, "no promises have been made" by Justice. 

"They have not made any commitments to take any action," he said.

FOX News has learned that a number of "priorities" are being considered in the "rolling review process." 

They include those ordered released by a judge -- including the Uyghurs, those cleared for release and those already charged with a crime by the military commissions.

A spokesman for the Justice Department, which is overseeing the review process, said the detainees are being dealt with on a rolling basis and no final decisions have been made. 

"There is a case-by-case examination of all the detainees at Guantanamo to determine the best option, " National Security Division spokesman Dean Boyd told FOX News. "Given the review is still pending, we are not in a position to speculate on the final disposition of each detainee."

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.