Reuters, following up on an announcement by the Justice Department, has just reported that three prisoners have been released from Guantánamo. Two men, who have not been identified, have been sent to Ireland, following successful negotiations between the Irish government and Daniel Fried, the Obama administration’s Special Envoy to Guantánamo. Their identities are being protected to help with their resettlement, but it seems likely, from previous discussions mentioned in the Irish media, that they are both Uzbeks, who were cleared for release from Guantánamo many years ago by military review boards established under the Bush administration, but who could not be repatriated because of fears that they would be tortured on their return.
The third man, Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, is a Yemeni, whose habeas corpus petition was granted by Judge Gladys Kessler in May this year. In her ruling, which I described at length in two articles at the time, “Judge Condemns ‘Mosaic’ Of Guantánamo Intelligence, And Unreliable Witnesses,” and “Guantánamo: A Prison Built On Lies,” Judge Kessler “demolished the government’s case against him, painting a disturbing picture of unreliable allegations made by other prisoners who were tortured, coerced, bribed or suffering from mental health issues, and a ‘mosaic’ of intelligence, purporting to rise to the level of evidence, which actually relied, to an intolerable degree, on second- or third-hand hearsay, guilt by association and unsupportable suppositions.” The case was one of the highlights of the prisoners’ successes in the courts, which, to date, have resulted in 30 victories out of 38 hearings, as I reported here, here and here, with updates here and here.
Although it is reassuring that Ali Ahmed has finally been released to Yemen, it remains sadly apparent that only 14 Yemenis have been repatriated since the prison opened, and that nearly a hundred Yemenis remain in Guantánamo, stuck, for the most part, because the US and Yemeni governments cannot reach a mutually satisfactory agreement regarding their return. Although exact figures are unknown, it has long been apparent that 12 of the Yemenis still held were approved for transfer by military review boards (some as long ago as 2006), and my research indicates that the US government has no intention of charging, or continuing to hold between half and two-thirds of the remaining Yemenis, if some sort of agreement can be reached.
With these releases, 223 men remain in Guantánamo (and another, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, is in prison in New York awaiting a federal court trial that is scheduled to begin in September 2010). 549 prisoners have now been released from Guantánamo (17 since Barack Obama took office), and six have died in the prison.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, and if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
See the following for articles about the 142 prisoners released from Guantánamo from June 2007 to January 2009, and the 14 prisoners released from February to August 2009, whose stories are covered in more detail than is available anywhere else –- either in print or on the Internet –- although many of them, of course, are also covered in The Guantánamo Files: June 2007 –- 2 Tunisians, 4 Yemenis (here, here and here); July 2007 –- 16 Saudis; August 2007 –- 1 Bahraini, 5 Afghans; September 2007 –- 16 Saudis; September 2007 –- 1 Mauritanian; September 2007 –- 1 Libyan, 1 Yemeni, 6 Afghans; November 2007 –- 3 Jordanians, 8 Afghans; November 2007 –- 14 Saudis; December 2007 –- 2 Sudanese; December 2007 –- 13 Afghans (here and here); December 2007 –- 3 British residents; December 2007 –- 10 Saudis; May 2008 –- 3 Sudanese, 1 Moroccan, 5 Afghans (here, here and here); July 2008 –- 2 Algerians; July 2008 –- 1 Qatari, 1 United Arab Emirati, 1 Afghan; August 2008 –- 2 Algerians; September 2008 –- 1 Pakistani, 2 Afghans (here and here); September 2008 –- 1 Sudanese, 1 Algerian; November 2008 –- 1 Kazakh, 1 Somali, 1 Tajik; November 2008 –- 2 Algerians; November 2008 –- 1 Yemeni (Salim Hamdan) repatriated to serve out the last month of his sentence; December 2008 –- 3 Bosnian Algerians; January 2009 –- 1 Afghan, 1 Algerian, 4 Iraqis; ; February 2009 — 1 British resident (Binyam Mohamed); May 2009 — 1 Bosnian Algerian (Lakhdar Boumediene); June 2009 — 1 Chadian (Mohammed El-Gharani), 4 Uighurs, 1 Iraqi, 3 Saudis (here and here), August 2009 — 1 Afghan (Mohamed Jawad), 2 Syrians to Portugal.
Great reporting as usual, Andy.
Glad to see three more out… and then there were… 217? or whatever the number is, the vast majority of whom pose no threat to anyone, and have probably been already so determined by the military, courts, or both, and/or Obama’s “executive review”.
The disconnect between the campaign rhetoric (and I think the initial executive order to lose GTMO within a year of inauguration can safely be counted as campaign rhetoric) and the actual policy of the Obama Administration, continues to be chasm width. Much of candidate Obama’s support (and I include my own) was drawn by criticism of the many policies of Bush/Cheney/Addington/Yoo that he inherited. But apparently, the perennial fear of all Demoratic politicians that they are soft on defense, or terrorism, or anything else… and lo and behold, he finds the politics of his one-year-closure promise (led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other jerks from Obama’s own party) to be close to untenable.
Worse, of course, the “flexibility” to operate gulags, kidnap people, and indeed, the granddaddy of them all, to send citizens to the dungeon without recourse to law… continues to be discussed, even if, thankfully, “preventive detention legislation” appears to be going nowhere.
American aggression and its companion the total national security state persist. The only “good news” is that it is more than likely in the coming few years that all of this will be remedied after all… not,of course, because of any kind of enlightened changes in policies, but simply because the United States’s economy is on track to collapse, and we just won’t be able to afford to do these things. Not clear what the GTMO census (or the broader gulag archipelago operated by American apparatuses) will be by then…but given cost concerns already causing American governments to start reducing their prison populations… one can extrapolate, I suppose.
In the meantime, the human cost of our unenlightened policies continues to be staggering; glad to see anyone at all– even if sadly still only a handful– released from them.
Thanks, TD. I shall try to take comfort from the correlation you drew between national bankruptcy, precipitated by the most startlingly dull but ambitious robber-barons in history, and the State’s inability to maintain insanely bloated domestic prison populations and wildly expensive foreign gulags. Bring on the second economic crash! (the one hidden by the multi-trillion dollar sticking plaster stolen from the public last year).
Hmm … small comfort, I find, but at least no one will be able to accuse us of having been delusional and unprepared … more tinned foodstuffs, Vicar?
[…] the Obama administration had repatriated six cleared Yemenis from Guantánamo, following up on the release of another court-cleared Yemeni in October. These transfers broke the long-standing deadlock […]
[…] Ahmed was finally released last September, and in the meantime another student in the house, Abdul Aziz al-Noofayee, a Saudi, was released […]
[…] — pending an improvement in the security situation in Yemen. Seven of the remaining 36 were freed last year, leaving 29 who may well have been freed had it not been for the […]
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