GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — The commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention center said Saturday he has been researching new potential accommodations for Osama bin Laden's driver, who could be held here indefinitely regardless of the verdict at his war crimes trial.
A jury of American military officers is expected to begin deliberations Monday in the case of Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni who faces a maximum life sentence on charges of conspiracy and supporting terrorism.
Even if he is found not guilty, he may not leave this U.S. Navy base. The military retains the right to hold those considered to pose a threat to the United States — even those who have been cleared of charges at Guantanamo's "military commissions."
The commander, Navy Rear Adm. David Thomas, said he has been looking for the most appropriate facility to isolate prisoners who have had their day in court.
"We would not house someone who has finished the military commissions process back … with the general detainee population. They would be held separate from the other detainees," said Thomas, who added he would not build a new prison.
The tribunals' deputy chief defense counsel, Michael Berrigan, said the possibility of acquitted men remaining confined here reveals the proceedings as "show trials."
"What's the purpose here? Mr. Hamdan is going to be held until the government wants to release him," Berrigan said. "It really has no connection to the underlying reality."