Most Guantanamo detainees 'low-level' combatants: government report

[JURIST] A task force initiated by the US government to evaluate the status of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees has reported that only 10 percent of inmates were terrorist leaders [report, PDF] when President Barack Obama [official website] took office in 2009. The Guantanamo Bay Task Force completed the report in January, but it was not disclosed to Congress until last week, according to the Washington Post, which published the report [WP report] Friday. The "rigorous interagency review" established that out of the 240 detainees, only two dozen were "leaders, operatives and facilitators involved in plots against the United States." The task force recommended 126 inmates be transferred and 36 be prosecuted by federal court or military tribunal. The task force also concluded that 48 detainees were too dangerous to be transferred, but were unable to be prosecuted, and 30 Yemeni detainees were being held on "conditional" detention based on the security environment in Yemen. In deciding which detainees should be subject to continued detention, the task force evaluated the inmates' roles in terrorist organizations, advanced training or experience, expressed recidivist intent, and history of association with extremist activity. The report also expressed the ongoing effort by the State Department to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo Bay and the extensive review process required for resettlement:

The process for engaging a country on resettlement issues can be lengthy and complicated. The State Department has engaged in discussion with dozens of countries across the globe to initiate or further resettlement negotiations once it has been determined that a government is open to discussions. When this process is successful, initial receptiveness leads to discussions regarding individual detainees, foreign government interagency review, foreign government interviews of prospective resettlement candidates, the foreign government's formal decision-making process, integration plans, and, ultimately, resettlement. The length of the effort often has been influenced by political and other issues in potential resettlement countries, third-country views with respect to detainee resettlement, and public views of the Guantanamo detention facility generally. Depending on how these factors affect individual cases, the process can be very lengthy.
The reported results were unanimously approved by all agencies involved, which included the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and Joint Chiefs of Staff [official websites].

The Obama administration continues its push to close the Guantanamo Bay facility, despite missing its self-imposed one-year deadline [JURIST report] in January. The administration has run into several hurdles in closing the prison, including opposition from members of Congress and the suspension of detainee transfers to Yemen [JURIST report]. Last week, the US House Armed Services Committee [official website] approved a bill [JURIST report] prohibiting the Obama administration from modifying or building a facility in the US to hold detainees currently held at Guantanamo. The bill requires [summary, PDF] that any plan to construct or modify US facilities to accommodate Guantanamo transfers be "accompanied by a thorough and comprehensive plan that outlines the merits, costs, and risks associated with utilizing such a facility." As the Obama administration has not presented such a plan to Congress, the bill prohibits the use of any funds for the purpose of preparing a US facility for Guantanamo transfers. The number of detainees at Guantanamo has significantly been reduced as the administration continues to transfer detainees to a growing list of countries, including Italy, Bulgaria, Spain, Maldives, Georgia, Albania, Latvia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Algeria, Somaliland, Palau, Belgium, Afghanistan, and Bermuda [JURIST reports].

 

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