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Holder Says Terrorists Won't Be Set Free in U.S.

Attorney General Eric Holder tried to reassure worried lawmakers Thursday that no Guantanamo Bay detainees thought to be terrorists will be released into the United States.

Holder testified at a Senate hearing on the Obama administration's budget for the Justice Department.

"We don't have any plans to release terrorists," said Holder.

But he also said some of the Guantanamo Bay detainees will be released, indicating the Obama administration believes some of those held there are not terrorists.

From the very beginning of the hearing, he faced questions about his plans for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center. President Obama has ordered the center closed by January 2010.

Republicans critical of Obama's plan claim Guantanamo detainees cannot legally be brought to the U.S. because federal law bars entry to anyone who has received terrorist training.

Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican, pressed Holder to say whether he believed he had the authority to release someone with terrorist training into the U.S.

The attorney general did not directly answer Shelby's question, but said the government does not have any plans to release terrorists.

"With regard to those who you would describe as terrorists, we would not bring them into this country and release them, anyone we would consider to be a terrorist," Holder said.

He added the government has no plans to release anyone considered a terrorist in a foreign country, either.

Last week in Europe, Holder said about 30 Guantanamo detainees have been approved for release. He has been asking European countries to take some of them, but that may be difficult if the U.S. does not also take some.

Republicans in Congress are fighting any such move, saying the presence of detainees would endanger communities that receive them.

The Democrat chairing the subcommittee hearing, Barbara Mikulski, also voiced misgivings, saying local and state elected officials should be told if they are going to receive detainees.

Mikulski said she and other lawmakers "would be very concerned" about being consulted on what the plans are for detainees brought to the U.S.

Holder assured her they would be consulted, but added that "determinations have not been made yet" about where to send any of the remaining Guantanamo detainees.

There are currently 241 people held at detention center at the U.S. military base in Cuba. Holder said some will be released, some will be put on trial, and some "are going to be detained on a fairly extended basis."