U.K. To Adopt Guantanamo Detainees?

(AP Photo)
One of Britain's biggest newspapers says the U.K. may volunteer to take in terror suspects currently penned up at America's Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.

President-elect Barack Obama wants to shut down the controversial military detention facility which has long been a lightning-rod for criticism by humanitarian groups. To do that, he needs to figure out what to do with about 250 prisoners still held there.

According to the Thursday , Britain's leaders weren't willing to help out President Bush by taking "cleared-for-release" prisoners off his hands, but they are eager to start their relationship with Mr. Obama on a high-note, and that may mean adopting some terror suspects.

"Of course the Foreign Office wants to do it, they want to get off to a good start with Obama," the article quoted one government source as saying.

(AP Photo/Shaun Curry/Pool)
It is, however, important to keep in mind the political muscle-power wielded by the British leaders who are considering this option. Prime Minister Gordon Brown (at left) is about as popular in his own country right now as warm flat beer is in the United States.

He's not done badly in recent polls against the opposition Conservative party, thanks to his perceived sound handling of the economic crisis (ironic, as he was Tony Blair's finance chief during the years of boom which preceded this bust), but if an election were called anytime soon, he'd lose.

(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
If the Conservative party were to come to power, it's very unclear whether would-be Prime Minister David Cameron (at left) would share Brown's apparent enthusiasm for helping Obama out of his jam.

Here's a thorough analysis of Obama's Guantanamo prisoner predicament by CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen.

Brown's government has been embarrassed by a seemingly endless series of gaffes this year, and telling the good people of Britain that some new neighbors are on the way... after extended stays at a "camp" in sunny Cuba, may not go down well. Particularly when they mention, possibly as an afterthought, that these folks were arrested as suspected terrorists.

One of the first comments left by a reader on The Times' Web site seems to sum up the likely British public reaction succinctly: "This is so crazy I don't believe it."

But hey, maybe nobody else will notice the news. Most of Britain is sleeping off its collective New Year's Eve hangover today.

  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.