The Wall St Journal (free link) reports President Obama is planning on closing Guantanamo through various executive actions, if necessary, to get around Congress' restrictions on detainee transfers.
Of the 149 who remain, 79 have been approved for transfer by national-security officials but remain because of political or diplomatic obstacles in repatriating them.
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The original complex, Camp X-Ray — with kennel-like cages that were used for about four months in 2002 while Delta was built — is a ghost prison, overrun by vegetation and banana rats, tropical rodents the size of opossums.
There's also a "FAQ" section on the future of Gitmo. Gitmo costs $443 million a year to operate -- $3 million per inmate (currently there are 143 inmates.) [More...]
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Five Afghan detainees at Guantanamo have been traded for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier being held in Afghanistan. The detainees were delivered to the Government of Quatar in Cuba, while U.S. commandos picked up the soldier in Afghanistan. Quatar was instrumental in the negotiations.
The White House says the detainees were members of the Taliban, not al Qaeda. All five have been held at Gitmo since 2002.
The released detainees are: Mohammad Fazl, about 47, Mullah Norullah Noori, about 47, Mohammed Nabi, about 48, Khairullah Khairkhwa, about 47, and Abdul Haq Wasiq, about 43. [More...]
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The Supreme Court today denied cert in the case of Guantanamo inmate Abdul al Qader Ahmed Hussain who said the lower court failed to exercise meaningful review in determining whether there were sufficient grounds to hold him at Gitmo. The lower court had ruled its authority was limited.
Justice Stephen Breyer issued a separate statement agreeing with the outcome but noting
The Court has not directly addressed whether theAUMF authorizes, and the Constitution permits, detention on the basis that an individual was part of al Qaeda,or part of the Taliban, but was not “engaged in an armed conflict against the United States” in Afghanistan prior to his capture. Nor have we considered whether, assuming detention on these bases is permissible, either the AUMF or the Constitution limits the duration of detention.
Breyer said since Hussein had not raised these issues, he was agreeing with the majority.
President Obama signed the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014) in Hawaii today.
He also released this signing statement criticizing Congress for its restrictions on transferring Gitmo detainees to the U.S. and preventing federal trials.
Obama needs to step up the pressure on closing Gitmo. One of his first acts in office in 2009 was to issue an executive order promising the closure of Gitmo in a year. It will not be good for his legacy if Gitmo is still up and running when he leaves office 8 years later. Then again, he also released a similar statement last year, so who knows what his intentions are. [More...]
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Retired Gen. Michael Lehnart, who was in charge of Guantanamo when it opened in 2002, says it's time to close it and end the mistake.
"In retrospect, the entire detention and interrogation strategy was wrong..."
"We squandered the goodwill of the world after we were attacked by our actions in Guantanamo, both in terms of detention and torture," Lehnert wrote. "Our decision to keep Guantanamo open has helped our enemies because it validates every negative perception of the United States."
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In an op-ed in the New York Times, author John Grisham writes he was puzzled by reports that his books were banned at Guantanamo. Lawyers for some of the detainees said their clients had requested them, so they brought copies with them when visiting, but the books weren't allowed through, due to "impermissible content."
Grisham says he tracked down one detainee, Nabil Hadjarab, a 34-year-old Algerian who grew up in France, who speaks perfect English. Grisham got to know Nabil's history, and it is similar to many of the detainees: they were sold to the U.S for a bounty of $5,000.
Nabil has been at Gitmo for 11 years. Grisham thinks he will be one of those released. But, he asks, what then? [More...]
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Jason Leopold has obtained the March 5, 2013 revised protocol for force-feeding prisoners at Guantanamo. You can read it here .
The policy went into effect about a month after the most recent hunger strikes began. On Friday, the strike will be in its 100th day.
Jason, who recently left Truthout and is now free-lancing, wrote the account for al-Jazeera. He is visiting Gitmo this week to report on the hunger strikes. Not surprisingly, after his arrival today, he received a request from officials to discuss his article.
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The Islamic Emirate of Afhanistan (Taliban) have released an official statement on Guantanamo and the hunger strikes.
The Islamic Emirate, which considers the ongoing atrocity in Guantanamo as a crime against humanity and a historical disgrace for mankind, calls on the entire Islamic world, Islamic societies and respected personalities, all the international human right organizations, media groups and charitable organizations to show their opposition and raise their voices against this unlawful action of the American officials as part of their duty and humanitarian obligation. The Islamic Emirate similarly calls on all writers, journalists and professionals to condemn the actions of America carried out against inmates in the infamous Guantanamo prison for the defense of human dignity and to fulfill their religious and humanitarian obligation.
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President Obama gave a news conference today at which he renewed a request to close Guantanamo:
"I continue to believe we have to close Guantanamo. I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe.
"It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counterterrorism efforts. It is a recruiting tool for extremists...."It needs to be closed," he said.
More than 100 of the 168 detainees are now on a hunger strike.[More...]
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Yemeni detainee Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel is one of the many prisoners at Guantanammo on a hunger strike. He has been held for 11 years, never been charged with a crime, and cleared for release.
He tells his story in an op-ed in the New York Times, Guantanamo is Killing me. It's very disturbing to read. You wouldn't do a dog this way.
Shame on us. The U.S. needs to send these men home.
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Guards at Guantanamo this morning conducted a pre-dawn raid of Camp 6, the communal housing block where most of the inmates are on a hunger strike. The purpose was to move the hunger-striking inmates to maximum security cells.
The detainees fought back. According to Guantanamo officials:
“Some detainees resisted with improvised weapons, and in response, four less-than-lethal rounds were fired,” according to a statement issued by the prison camps at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. “There were no serious injuries to guards or detainees.”
....“In order to reestablish proper observation, the guards entered the Camp 6 communal living spaces to transition detainees into single cells, remove obstructions to cameras, windows and partitions, and to assess the medical condition of each detainee,” the prison said.
Yesterday, Guantanamo's prison camp Commander was replaced. [More...]
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A military commissions judge at Guantanamo has delayed proceedings in the case of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri for two months due to the discovery by an IT team that 540,000 private defense emails were made available to the prosecution.
The mishandling of the e-mails was detected when IT specialists were conducting a search of the government’s computer system on behalf of prosecutors in a particular case. When they did so, they came across not only the e-mails they were seeking but also e-mails between defense lawyers.
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By this weekend, the U.S. military had defined 26 of the 166 captives as hunger strikers. Eight were being fed nutritional shakes through a tube snaked through a shackled captive’s nose to his stomach. Two were hospitalized, getting nutrition through a tube and intravenous hydration as well. Lawyers for the captives quote their clients as counting dozens more as long-term hunger strikers, who are getting weaker by the day.
Each meal is prepared, brought to the detainee, and when refused, thrown away. [More...]
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There has been a mass hunger strike going on since February at Guantanamo, mostly by detainees in Camp Six, the least restrictive unit. According to a letter from more than 50 defense lawyers to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, available here, almost all of the 134 detainees in Camp Six are engaged in the hunger strike, and they are dropping like flies.
The Defense Department disputes the numbers, and insists only 14 are being force-fed: 9 involved in the current strike and 5 who always go on hunger strikes. The photo above is of a restraint chair used to force-feed detainees at Gitmo.[More...}
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