I just don’t understand how they can keep someone for 3 years after they are cleared for release?!
In all of the mainstream media analysis of WikiLeaks’ recent release of Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) from Guantánamo, relating to almost all of the 779 prisoners who have been held at the prison over the last nine years and four months, one group of prisoners has so far been overlooked: the Yemenis.
The most unfortunate group of men in Guantánamo, the Yemenis — 89 in total — make up over half of the 172 prisoners still held. In 2006 and 2007, when the majority of the Saudi prisoners were released, as part of a political settlement between the Bush administration and the Saudi government, which introduced an expensive rehabilitation program to secure the return of its nationals, no such deal took place between the US and President Saleh of Yemen.
Just 23 Yemenis have been released from Guantánamo throughout its history, and those who remain have found themselves used as political pawns. When President Obama established the Guantanamo Review Task Force to examine the cases of all the remaining prisoners in 2009, the Task Force — a collection of sober officials and lawyers from various government departments and the intelligence agencies — recommended that 36 Yemenis should be released immediately, and that 30 others should be held in a new category of imprisonment — “conditional detention” — until the security situation in Yemen was assessed to have improved.
The Task Force also recommended that five others should be put forward for trial, and 26 others held indefinitely without charge or trial.
The designation of this latter group for indefinite detention — as part of a group of 48 prisoners in total — dismayed human rights activists and supporters, in general, of the principle that preventive detention is only authorized if the prisoners in question are enemy prisoners of war, removed from the battlefield until the end of hostilities.
This should not have been a contentious viewpoint, but it was a sign of the paranoia regarding Guantánamo — which was deliberately engendered by the prison’s supporters, and bought into by Obama administration officials — that few voices of dissent were raised when the President attempted to justify holding 48 men indefinitely because they were regarded as too dangerous to release, even though there was insufficient evidence to put them on trial.
In the real world, rather than the permanently spooked world of Guantánamo and terrorism, this would mean that there was no evidence, and that what the government had instead was multiple levels of hearsay and information extracted through torture. And this, indeed, is what has become apparent in the Detainee Assessment Briefsreleased by WikiLeaks, which have demonstrated that much of the government’s supposed evidence — against prisoners who, presumably, include some of these 48 men — was either extracted from “high-value detainees” likeAbu Zubaydah, who were tortured in secret CIA prisons, or from informants within Guantánamo, who were bribed or coerced to tell lies about their fellow prisoners.
The 28 Yemenis “approved for transfer” from Guantánamo, and the poor reasons for their ongoing detention
Beyond these 48 men, however, and the 26 Yemenis included in the total, the Yemenis cleared for release (or “approved for transfer,” in the careful words of the Task Force) have fared no better. Although President Obama released one Yemeni who had won his habeas corpus petition in the fall of 2009, and six others the week before Christmas, the capture, on Christmas Day 2009, of a would-be plane bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian who had apparently been recruited in Yemen, caused a sudden backlash against releasing any more Yemenis from Guantánamo, which President Obama accepted without criticism, imposing a moratorium on releasing any Yemenis that is still in place 16 months later. (This moratorium lasted from 2009 to May 2013 when he lifted the ban because of the ongoing hunger strike. So no prisoners who were cleared for release were able to leave during this time.)
Since January 2010, just one Yemeni has been freed — a patently innocent man who also won his habeas corpus petition — while, in general, a terrible injustice has been allowed to prevail. On the one hand, this involves the US government endorsing guilt by nationality, and being content to tar the whole of Yemen as a terrorist nation that cannot be trusted with looking after prisoners released from Guantánamo, and on the other it involves supporters of Guantánamo telling deliberate lies about the Yemenis, by claiming that released Yemenis have “returned to the battlefield” in significant numbers, when only two examples have been reported — one who was subsequently killed in an airstrike, and another who surrendered to the Yemeni authorities.
In fact, the majority of the alleged recidivists in the Gulf — around a dozen ex-prisoners — are Saudis, released by President Bush against the advice of his own intelligence agencies, who identified them as a threat. These men passed through the rehabilitation program but then some of them crossed the border into Yemen to join Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a small terrorist cell inspired by Osama bin Laden’s example.
As a result of President Obama’s moratorium, the remaining 28 men cleared for immediate release by the Task Force but still held have been consigned to a fate that, in effect, is no different from the 48 men held indefinitely without charge or trial. The identities of these men have not been publicly announced, and it has not been possible to identify all of them, but 19 cleared Yemenis who are still held are identified in the WikiLeaks documents.
Officials said that detainees would have their cases dealt with on an individual basis, raising the prospect of a few prisoners being freed from Guantánamo one-by-one in the next few weeks rather than any wholesale transfer.
In a statement, the government of Yemen welcomed the move and pledged to “ensure the safe return of its detainees and … their gradual rehabilitation and integration back into society”.
Obama said that he would appoint a senior envoy at the State Department and the Defense Department whose sole responsibility would be to examine ways of transferring detainees to other countries. He had also asked Pentagon officials to come up with another site where military tribunals could take place to prosecute alleged terrorists.
Finally, he said that those detainees who had yet to be charged in those tribunals could be dealt with by the US civilian justice system – as several recent high-profile terrorism cases have been. “Where appropriate, we will bring terrorists to justice in our courts and military justice system. And we will insist that judicial review be available for every detainee,” he said.
*It’s also important to note that this moratorium on releasing innocent prisoners (???) was only lifted in an attempt to appease the majority of the prisoners at Guantanamo who were (& 106 still are) on a hunger strike & not because Obama has decided to keep his first term promise of closing the prison.
The thing about the current state of the NSA Domestic Spying programs is that nobody seems to care.
This problem of apathy is probably because privacy loss on this scale is not really a tangible thing to most people. It’s hard to imagine how big a city is, let alone a country, and how many people are seeing your every tweet, status update, phone call, etc.
You threaten to “take away” people’s guns, they balk.
You threaten to “take away” people’s health care, they scream bloody murder.
But you tell them that the government is spying on them? Well, no biggie! They do that to everyone, and it’s to stop Terr’ists™.
What seems to happen is that people think of it as an either/or question:
1. The government has to watch everyone
2. The Terr’ists™ among us will kill us all.
It rarely seems to occur to us that this reactionary spying is caving into what the terrorists want. When you live in constant fear of being killed going about your everyday life, then, to turn a phrase, the terrorists have won.
When you have the NSA doing elaborate legalistic acrobatics to say that seizing phone records, passwords, bank information, is not “unreasonable search and seizure” because it’s not on paper, that’s some bull.
So where does it stop?
Submitted by: kellanium
What Obama has specialized in from the beginning of his presidency is putting pretty packaging on ugly and discredited policies. The cosmopolitan, intellectualized flavor of his advocacy makes coastal elites and blue state progressives instinctively confident in the Goodness of whatever he’s selling, much as George W. Bush’s swaggering, evangelical cowboy routine did for red state conservatives. The CIA presciently recognized this as a valuable asset back in 2008 when they correctly predicted that Obama’s election would stem the tide of growing antiwar sentiment in western Europe by becoming the new, more attractive face of war, thereby converting hordes of his admirers from war opponents into war supporters. This dynamic has repeated itself over and over in other contexts, and has indeed been of great value to the guardians of the status quo in placating growing public discontent about their economic insecurity and increasingly unequal distribution of power and wealth. However bad things might be, we at least have a benevolent, kind-hearted and very thoughtful leader doing everything he can to fix it.
Glenn Greenwald, Obama’s terrorism speech: Seeing what you want to see
Amina Ismail, a journalist at McClatchy: I send my deepest condolence to the victims and families in Boston. But President Obama said that what happened in Boston was an act of terrorism. I would like to ask, Do you consider the U.S. bombing on civilians in Afghanistan earlier this month that left 11 children and a woman killed a form of terrorism? Why or why not?
Jay Carney, White House press secretary: Well, I would have to know more about the incident and then obviously the Department of Defense would have answers to your questions on this matter. We have more than 60,000 U.S. troops involved in a war in Afghanistan, a war that began when the United States was attacked, in an attack that was organized on the soil of Afghanistan by al Qaeda, by Osama bin laden and others and more than 3,000 people were killed in that attack. And it has been the President’s objective once he took office to make clear what our goals are in Afghanistan and that is to disrupt, dismantle and ultimately defeat al Qaeda. And with that as our objective to provide enough assistance to Afghan National Security Forces and the Afghan government to allow them to take over security for themselves. And that process is underway and the United States has withdrawn a substantial number of troops and we are in the process of drowning down further as we hand over security lead to Afghan forces. And it is certainly the case that I refer you to the defense department for details that we take great care in the prosecution of this war and we are very mindful of what our objectives are.
…in an attempt to completely dodge the original question. Just throw in the words “al Qaeda” & “terrorism” here & there, & you’ve got a White House response.
“This was a heinous and cowardly act, and given what we now know about what took place, the FBI is investigating it as an act of terrorism. Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.” - President Obama