Does Obama Really Know or Care About Who Is at Guantánamo?

11.6.10

The recently released Final Report of President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force (PDF) was supposed to provide a cogent and definitive analysis of the status of the remaining 181 prisoners, given that it took eleven months to complete, and involved “more than 60 career professionals, including intelligence analysts, law enforcement agents, and attorneys, drawn from the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other agencies within the intelligence community.”

Sadly, however, the end result — although valid in many ways — also revealed institutional caution, credulity regarding the contributions of the intelligence services, an inability to address fundamental problems with the legislation that authorized President Bush’s detention policies in the first place, and a willingness to bend to the demands of political expediency.

Why We Had High Hopes When Obama Came to Power

When Obama came into office pledging to close Guantánamo in a year, it seemed possible that, before the 12 months elapsed, the administration would begin federal court trials for around three dozen of the remaining prisoners, and would free the rest.

This was not as fanciful a notion as it may at first appear. Over the years, intelligence reports indicated that the number of prisoners involved in any meaningful way with al-Qaeda or other international terrorist groups was somewhere between 38 and just over 50. As I explained in an article in 2008:

Of the 749 detainees who were held at the prison during its first two and half years of existence, none, according to dozens of high-level military and intelligence sources interviewed by the New York Times in June 2004, “ranked as leaders or senior operatives of al-Qaeda,” and “only a relative handful — some put the number at about a dozen, others more than two dozen — were sworn Qaeda members or other militants able to elucidate the organization’s inner workings.”

Ten more reputedly significant detainees arrived at Guantánamo from [Bagram via] secret CIA prisons in September 2004, and another 14 “high-value detainees” … arrived in September 2006, but these arrivals — which, in themselves, revealed the existence of secret prisons that were even less accountable than Guantánamo — were hardly enough to convince any except the administration’s most fervent and unquestioning supporters that the whole extra-legal experiment was worthwhile.

With the addition of two more “high-value detainees,” who were flown into Guantánamo from secret prisons in 2007 and 2008 (along with four other less significant prisoners), this means that, of the 779 prisoners held in total, only around 5 percent resembled “the worst of the worst” that were so regularly and enduringly touted by the Bush administration, and I hoped that Obama would recognize this, and would use it to push back against his predictable Republican critics.

In addition, when it came to releasing prisoners, those of us who hoped for the best back in January 2009 realized that 59 prisoners had already been approved for release (or transfer) by military review boards under President Bush, but had not been released by the time he left office. As a result, we hoped that dozens of prisoners would be released in the first few months of Obama’s presidency.

We were even optimistic that a workable solution could be found for the dozens of other prisoners whose repatriation was out of the question because they faced the risk of torture of in their home countries — including Algeria, China, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Uzbekistan — or because, like a handful of Palestinians, they were essentially stateless refugees. When we saw how much goodwill there was towards President Obama around the world, we believed that it would be relatively easy to secure the assistance of other countries in offering homes to these men, so long as the United States made the first move, offering some of the men new homes on the US mainland.

Obvious candidates for resettlement in the US were the Uighurs, Muslims from China’s oppressed Xinjiang province, who had been sold to US forces by Pakistani villagers after fleeing from a ramshackle settlement in the Afghan mountains, where they had ended up after unsuccessfully attempting to travel to Turkey in search of employment, or because they nursed futile hopes of rising up against the Chinese government. It had been obvious to almost everyone, from the moment they arrived in US custody, that they had no connection to either al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and in October 2008 they had been the first men to win their habeas corpus petitions, after the Supreme Court granted the Guantánamo prisoners constitutionally guaranteed habeas rights three months earlier.

How Our Hopes Were Dashed

In the end, however, although the Task Force recommended trials for 36 of the prisoners (well within the scope of the previously reported intelligence estimates), and approved 126 for release (out of the 240 prisoners whose cases they studied), its members also demonstrated the caution, credulity, confusion and political expediency that I mentioned at the start of this article.

The most distressing example of caution and credulity concerned what the Task Force called “the disposition” of 48 other prisoners, who, in their opinion, should continue to be held indefinitely because “prosecution is not feasible in either federal court or a military commission.” The irony — that indefinite detention was exactly what President Bush had established in the first place — was not lost on the members, who made a point of attempting to stifle criticism as follows:

[T]he principal obstacles to prosecution in the cases deemed infeasible by the Task Force typically did not stem from concerns over protecting sensitive sources or methods from disclosure, or concerns that the evidence against the detainees was tainted. While such concerns were present in some cases, most detainees were deemed infeasible for prosecution based on more fundamental evidentiary and jurisdictional limitations tied to the demands of a criminal forum.

According to the Task Force, these “fundamental evidentiary and jurisdictional limitations” related to the circumstances of the prisoners’ capture, and perceived problems in prosecuting them either in federal courts or in military commissions.

The Problems with the Evidence

On the first point, the Task Force explained that, because “[t]he focus at the time of their capture was the gathering of intelligence and their removal from the fight,” they “were not the subjects of formal criminal investigations, and the evidence was neither gathered nor preserved with an eye toward prosecuting them.” This made the circumstances of their capture — largely at the hands of the US military’s Afghan and Pakistani allies, at a time when bounty payments were widespread — sound less chaotic than it actually was, and it also disguised the kind of treatment to which they were subjected during “the gathering of intelligence.”

With this in mind, it is no more reassuring to read the Task Force’s assessment of the quality of the intelligence services’ reports used to establish the significance of these 48 prisoners. The Task Force attempted to explain that “the intelligence about them may be accurate and reliable,” but “for various reasons may not be admissible evidence or sufficient to satisfy a criminal burden of proof in either a military commission or federal court.”

The “various reasons” were not explained, but reading between the lines, what this rather bland but conditional statement demonstrates, with its prominent use of the word “may,” is that the intelligence relied upon as evidence will probably not stand up to any kind of genuinely objective scrutiny, and the reasons for this are inadvertently revealed in the final line of the paragraph dealing with the “evidentiary limitations.”

“One common problem,” the Task Force wrote, “is that, for many of the detainees, there are no witnesses who are available to testify in any proceedings against them.” Here the use of the possible witnesses’ availability is something of a smokescreen, disguising a blunter truth: that the intelligence, and whatever witness availability there might be, are both tainted by the circumstances under which “the gathering of intelligence” took place — the coercive interrogations, and in some cases the torture, of the prisoners themselves, or of their fellow prisoners.

With 50 rulings now delivered in the District Court in Washington D.C. on the prisoners’ habeas corpus petitions (36 of which have been won by the prisoners), these problems have been highlighted again and again by judges, with an objectivity that eluded the Task Force — as, for example, in the cases of Fouad al-Rabiah, a Kuwaiti put forward by President Bush for a trial by military commission, who was freed after a judge ruled that the entire case against him rested on a false narrative that he had come up with after torture and threats, and, to cite just two more examples, Alla Ali Bin Ali Ahmed, a Yemeni seized in a student guest house in Pakistan, and Mohammed El-Gharani, a Chadian national, who was just 14 when he was seized in a raid on a mosque in Pakistan. In both cases, they were freed after judges ruled that the government’s witnesses — the men’s fellow prisoners — were irredeemably unreliable, and were, if not subjected to violence, then bribed to produce false statements.

It is, therefore, rather disingenuous of the Task Force to claim that “the principal obstacle to prosecution” for these 48 men “typically did not come from … concerns that the evidence against the detainee[s] was tainted,” when, to be frank, the record is replete with examples proving the opposite.

Moreover, a review of some of the cases that the Task Force deemed appropriate for indefinite detention is even more alarming. Although the Task Force identified roughly 10 percent of the prisoners (24 in total) as “Leaders, operatives, and facilitators involved in terrorist plots against US targets” (including six of the 14 “high-value detainees” transferred to Guantánamo from secret CIA prisons in September 2006), the 20 percent identified as “Others with significant organizational roles within al-Qaeda or associated terrorist organizations” (48 prisoners in total) included “individuals responsible for overseeing or providing logistical support to al-Qaeda’s training operations in Afghanistan; facilitators who helped moved money and personnel for al-Qaeda; a cadre of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards, who held a unique position of trust within al-Qaeda; and well- trained operatives who were being groomed by al-Qaeda leaders for future terrorist operations.”

The most worrying inclusion here is of bin Laden’s “cadre” of bodyguards, for reasons that have long been apparent. The men in question, identified in Guantánamo as the “Dirty Thirty,” are 30 men seized as they attempted to cross the border from Afghanistan to Pakistan in December 2001, and although some were involved with al-Qaeda and had been fighting US forces (or, to be more accurate, their Afghan proxies) in the Tora Bora mountains, the bodyguard allegations were first picked up on in 2006 as false allegations produced by the notorious torture victim Mohammed al-Qahtani.

In addition, in a recent habeas case, similarly baseless allegations were revealed to have originated with two other prisoners held in secret prisons before their delivery to Bagram, where their confessions were extracted. In the cases of these two men, Sharqwi Abdu Ali al-Hajj and Sanad Yislam Ali al-Kazimi, their statements were excluded by Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr., because, as he explained, “there is unrebutted evidence in the record that, at the time of the interrogations at which they made the statements, both men had recently been tortured.”

Just as significantly, the false allegations were directed at Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman, supposedly one of the “Dirty Thirty,” whose habeas petition was granted by Judge Kennedy on February 24 this year (a month after the Task Force report was published). In his unclassified opinion, Judge Kennedy ruled that the government had failed, by a preponderance of the evidence, to establish that Uthman “received and executed orders from al-Qaeda.”

The Problems with Holding Soldiers in Guantánamo

Beyond the problems with the evidence, the Task Force also identified “jurisdictional limitations.” These related to problems when, for example, a prisoner’s ties to al-Qaeda had apparently been established — through “attend[ing] a training camp,” for example, or “play[ing] some role in the hierarchy of the organization” — but “the Task Force did not find evidence that the detainee participated in a specific terrorist plot.”

Despite the fact that “the federal material support statutes have been used to convict persons who have merely provided services to a terrorist organization,” the Task Force bridled at this option, fearing that the statutes would prevent the filing of charges relating to activities preceding the 9/11 attacks, worrying about the eight-year statute of limitations for these offenses, and also worrying that the maximum sentence for material support — 15 years — was not punitive enough.

Missing from these discussions, however, was an additional problem that has arisen during the rulings on the prisoners’ habeas petitions; namely, that the majority of the prisoners who have lost their habeas petitions, and who might face some of these material support charges, are, typically, low-level Taliban recruits who were involved, in one way or another, with the Taliban’s conflict with the Northern Alliance before the 9/11 attacks, and who clearly had nothing to do with al-Qaeda or international terrorism — beyond, perhaps, having heard the odd pep talk by Osama bin Laden at a training camp.

Instead of debating just two options — trials or indefinite detention — the Task Force should, I believe, have suggested a third option: holding the men as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, and not as the dangerously unique type of prisoner whose detention is justified by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). The founding document of the “War on Terror,” passed by Congress just days after the 9/11 attacks, the AUMF authorized — and still authorizes — the President “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001” (or those who harbored them).

The imprisonment of men detained under the AUMF was approved by the Supreme Court in 2004, in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, in which it was asserted that “Congress has clearly and unmistakably authorized detention” of individuals covered by the AUMF, and it is this combination of factors that is used by Obama, as it was by Bush, to justify the imprisonment of the Guantánamo prisoners.

However, as the habeas cases have shown — and the Task Force’s problems reinforce — all that has been created for the majority of the men held in Guantánamo is an alternative to the Geneva Conventions (which, crucially, authorize detention until the end of hostilities), that draws everyone involved in it into legal knots, and, moreover, only provides ammunition to those who maintain that Guantánamo is full of terrorists, when the truth, plainly, is that it contains only a small proportion of terrorists, and a much larger number of soldiers.

The Problems with Political Expediency

The final problem with the report feeds into a larger problem on the administration’s part, relating, as I mentioned above, to the perils of political expediency. In analyzing the cases of the 97 Yemenis at Guantánamo during the course of the report, the Task Force advised that five be prosecuted and 26 be held indefinitely, but approved the other 66 for release. Seven of these men were freed last year, but Obama bowed to political pressure and halted all further releases to Yemen in January, just weeks before the report was published, in response to a wave of hysteria that greeted the discovery that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed Christmas Day plane bomber from Nigeria, had trained in Yemen.

The Task Force had already designated 30 of the 66 cleared Yemenis in a category of their own, as “pos[ing] a lower threat than the group of detainees designated for continued detention under the AUMF,” and had recommended that they “should not be transferred to Yemen in the near future,” and should be held in “conditional” detention — another novelty — until “the security situation improves.”

However, following the President’s “moratorium on transfers” to Yemen, the Task Force unanimously agreed with the President’s decision, despite the fact that there was no reason to suppose that Yemenis held in Guantánamo for eight years had — or would have — any connection to a recent al-Qaeda offshoot in Yemen, which apparently involved a handful of Saudi ex-prisoners (not Yemenis), whose release in 2006 and 2007 had, moreover, been authorized by President Bush, in spite of the advice of the intelligence services.

Sadly, this example of political expediency is just one of many on the part of Obama administration in the last year that have dashed the high hopes held by many of us in January 2009. Other examples include Obama vetoing White House Counsel Greg Craig’s plan to bring some Uighurs to live in the US last spring, his decision to revive the reviled military commissions trial system (which he suspended on his first day in office), and his support of indefinite detention without charge or trial, which he announced in a major national security speech last May, when most of George W. Bush’s cards, which Obama had taken off the table, were put back on again.

In conclusion, the Guantánamo Review Task Force’s Final Report is not a complete disaster, but its misinterpretations and omissions are deeply troubling, and indicate that closing Guantánamo remains considerably more difficult that it needs to be — or than it should have been. This is sad news indeed for those still held, whether regarded as significant or not, who are still waiting for something resembling justice to be delivered after nearly eight and a half years.

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) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, currently on tour in the UK, and available on DVD here), and my definitive Guantánamo habeas list, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published exclusively on Truthout. Cross-posted on Dandelion Salad and Uruknet.

51 Responses

  1. Does Obama Really Know or Care About Who Is at Guantánamo? « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] Andy Worthington Featured Writer Dandelion Salad http://www.andyworthington.co.uk 12 June, [...]

  2. Arbitrary Government Kidnapping Under the Cloak of ‘Objectivity’ « Little Alex in Wonderland says...

    [...] executive branch Final Report of President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force [.pdf], Mr. Worthington wrote, “was supposed to provide a cogent and definitive analysis of the status of the remaining 181 [...]

  3. Trojan Horace says...

    The Spanish Inquisition, hangings in Salem, McCarthyism Guantánamo… the list of tragic follies goes on. All will be remembered by historians as unquestionable wrongs and as tragic for the victims… except that this time round we really do know better about why totalitarianism and suspension of due process and legality can never be justified and shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone. Two wrongs never made a right and they still don’t. The corrosive damage done to a State that rubber-stamps and condones this kind of behaviour is incalculable

  4. Blog Entry – Christine Sands | Revolution, Modernity, Postmodernity says...

    [...] Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison.  In his section ‘Does Obama Really Know or Care About Who is at Guantánamo?’, Worthington appears very knowledgeable about the situations present in the Guantánamo prison and [...]

  5. Harry Potter at Guantánamo ? « prisons of shame says...

    [...] [...]

  6. No Surprise at Obama’s Guantánamo Trial Chaos | Dark Politricks says...

    [...] of war, and secondly, because the president is also relying on the AUMF to justify his plan to continue holding 48 of the remaining 176 prisoners without charge or trial, on the basis that “prosecution is not feasible in either federal [...]

  7. ANDY WORTHINGTON: Introducing the Definitive List of the Remaining Prisoners in Guantánamo | My Catbird Seat says...

    [...] in these accounts, but, I believe, few stories of genuine terrorists, and should bear in mind that, as advised by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, only 34 of the remaining 176 men are to be put forward for trials, although 48 others are to be [...]

  8. LIST OF REMAINING PRISONERS IN GUANTANAMO | SHOAH says...

    [...] in these accounts, but, I believe, few stories of genuine terrorists, and should bear in mind that, as advised by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, only 34 of the remaining 176 men are to be put forward for trials, although 48 others are to be [...]

  9. Who Are the Remaining Prisoners in Guantánamo? Part One: The “Dirty Thirty” | NO LIES RADIO says...

    [...] the rest, some are among the 26 Yemenis that, in January, the Obama administration’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force recommended should continue to be held indefinitely without charge or [...]

  10. Who Are Remaining Prisoners In Guantánamo? Part Three: Captured Crossing From Afghanistan Into Pakistan » World Uyghur Congress says...

    [...] As before, the majority of the prisoners are Yemenis, and although many have presumably been cleared for release by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, they are waiting to see if the President [...]

  11. Lawfare › “Blind Vengeance and a Thorough Disdain for the Law” says...

    [...] find that they are encouraged, disturbingly, by the Obama administration itself, which has already endorsed indefinite detention without charge or trial for 48 of the remaining 174 prisoners in Guantánamo, on the advice of the interagency Guantánamo [...]

  12. Anwar Al-Awlaqi: Judge Rules that President’s Decision to Assassinate US Citizens Abroad, Without Due Process or Explanation, is “Judicially Unreviewable” « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] from Guantánamo, even though the Guantánamo Review Task Force convened by President Obama had recommened that 29 of those held could be immediately released to Yemen — and that 30 more could be released if the security [...]

  13. No Surprise at Obama’s Guantánamo Trial Chaos | NW0.eu says...

    [...] of war, and secondly, because the president is also relying on the AUMF to justify his plan to continue holding 48 of the remaining 176 prisoners without charge or trial, on the basis that “prosecution is not feasible in either federal court [...]

  14. President Obama Loses the Plot on Guantánamo « Eurasia Review says...

    [...] men in question — 48 of the remaining 174 prisoners — were designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial during a year-long review of the Guantánamo cases conducted last year by the Guantánamo Review [...]

  15. Guantánamo is “a piece of hell that kills everything”: A bleak New Year message from Yemeni prisoner Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif | The Muslim Justice Initiative says...

    [...] Abdulmutallab, had been recruited in Yemen. This is unforgivable in and of itself, as it consigns the 58 Yemenis “approved for transfer” by the President’s Guantánamo Review Task Force to the status of political prisoners, [...]

  16. Guantánamo Is “A Piece of Hell That Kills Everything”: A Bleak New Year Message from Yemeni Prisoner Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif « Eurasia Review says...

    [...] Abdulmutallab, had been recruited in Yemen. This is unforgivable in and of itself, as it consigns the 58 Yemenis “approved for transfer” by the President’s Guantánamo Review Task Force to the status of political prisoners, detained [...]

  17. As Activists Plan Protest for 9th Anniv. of Guantánamo, Former Gitmo Commander Subpoenaed in Spain over Prisoner Torture + Ending Bush’s big lie on Guantánamo « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] that very few prisoners at all will be released before the 2012 elections. With reference to the findings of the Obama administration’s own Guantánamo Review Task Force, I explained how the 89 men cleared for release are, for the most part, going nowhere, because 58 [...]

  18. Obama’s Collapse: The Return of the Military Commissions « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] to do so, he added insult to injury by issuing a moratorium preventing the release of 29 Yemenis cleared for release by his own Guantánamo Review Task Force, after his opponents seized on the revelation that a [...]

  19. Guantánamo Prisoner Dies After Being Held for Nine Years Without Charge or Trial « Eurasia Review says...

    [...] the intelligence services, who reviewed all the Guantánamo cases in 2009, had designated Gul as one of 48 prisoners who should continue to be held indefinitely without charge or trial, meaning that, even if his [...]

  20. Guantánamo Prisoner Dies After Being Held for Nine Years Without Charge or Trial | The Muslim Justice Initiative says...

    [...] the intelligence services, who reviewed all the Guantánamo cases in 2009, had designated Gul as one of 48 prisoners who should continue to be held indefinitely without charge or trial, meaning that, even if his [...]

  21. Another Desperate Letter from Guantánamo by Adnan Latif: “With All My Pains, I Say Goodbye to You” « Eurasia Review says...

    [...] intelligence services, who reviewed all the Guantánamo cases throughout 2009, and concluded that 28 Yemenis should be released — and that another 30 should be released when the security situation in Yemen improves. This [...]

  22. After Recent Ruling in the Case of Bin Laden’s Cook, Guantánamo Should Close by July 2012 « Eurasia Review says...

    [...] Omar Khadr and Noor Uthman Muhammed, 89 of the remaining 172 men in Guantánamo have actually been cleared for release for at least a year — and in some cases for nearly two years — after all the cases inherited by [...]

  23. Torture and Terrorism: In the Middle East It’s 2011, In America It’s Still 2001 « Dandelion Salad says...

    [...] the other 89 Yemenis still held in Guantánamo, 58 were cleared for release by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force, which reviewed all the [...]

  24. The Hidden Horrors of WikiLeaks’ Guantánamo Files | Amauta says...

    [...] from secret prisons in September 2004, plus a handful of others. Essentially, these are the 36 men recommended for trials by the Obama administration’s Guantánamo Review Task Force, which spent the whole of 2009 [...]

  25. Psyche, Science, and Society » Worthington explains Guantánamo Detainee Assessment Briefs says...

    [...] With this in mind, it should be noted that there are good reasons why Obama administration officials, in the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force established by the President to review the cases of the 241 prisoners still held in Guantánamo when he took office, concluded that only 36 could be prosecuted. [...]

  26. How To Read WikiLeaks’ Guantánamo Files – OpEd « « Eurasia Review Eurasia Review says...

    [...] With this in mind, it should be noted that there are good reasons why Obama administration officials, in the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force established by the President to review the cases of the 241 prisoners still held in Guantánamo when he took office, concluded that only 36 could be prosecuted. [...]

  27. WikiLeaks Reveals Yemenis Cleared For Guantanamo Release Up To Seven Years - OpEd says...

    [...] 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 [...]

  28. WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo Prisoners Released from 2002 to 2004 … » WeNewsIt says...

    [...] because the remaining prisoners have largely been abandoned by the mainstream media, even though 89 of the 171 have been cleared for release, and only 36 were recommended for trials by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task [...]

  29. WikiLeaks and the Guantánamo Prisoners Released from 2002 to 2004 (All Ten Parts) – Andy Worthington « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] [...]

  30. Protestors In Washington D.C. Call For End To Afghan War - OpEd says...

    [...] of these men are still held, even though only 36 of them have been proposed for trials, and there is no sign of when, if ever, the rest will be released. An [...]

  31. Protestors in Washington D.C. Call for an End to the Afghan War on its 10th Anniversary, and the Transformation of American Politics | War On You: Breaking Alternative News says...

    [...] of these men are still held, even though only 36 of them have been proposed for trials, and there is no sign of when, if ever, the rest will be released. An [...]

  32. No End To The Shameful Treatment Of Omar Khadr - Analysis says...

    [...] has been largely overlooked — the continued presence of 171 prisoners at Guantánamo, even though the government conceded, after a year-long review in 2009, that it did not wish to hold over half of these [...]

  33. No End To The Shameful Treatment Of Omar Khadr - OpEd says...

    [...] has been largely overlooked — the continued presence of 171 prisoners at Guantánamo, even though the government conceded, after a year-long review in 2009, that it did not wish to hold over half of these [...]

  34. No End to the Shameful Treatment of Omar Khadr | Islamic News Daily says...

    [...] Khadr’s release from Guantánamo will also focus attention once more on what should be an abiding source of shame for Barack Obama, but has been largely overlooked — the continued presence of 171 prisoners at Guantánamo, even though the government conceded, after a year-long review in 2009, that it did not wish to hold more half of those men. [...]

  35. It Costs $72 Million A Year to Hold Cleared Prisoners at Guantánamo « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] comprising career officials and lawyers from government departments and the intelligence agencies, reviewed the files of all the prisoners to work out what to do with them, and concluded that 89 of the 171 remaining prisoners should be [...]

  36. As Judges Kill Off Habeas Corpus For Guantánamo Prisoners, Will Supreme Court Act? says...

    [...] What made the ruling particularly depressing was that, in January 2007, as was revealed inthe classified military files released by WikiLeaks in April this year, Rear Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., the commander of Guantánamo at the time, recommended Hentif’s release, based on assessments made by the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo. Nevertheless, he was not released by President Bush, was not released by President Obama, and, moreover, appeared to be a victim of the Justice Department’s general indifference to the fate of the prisoners, as government lawyers could easily have been instructed not to challenge the habeas corpus petitions of any of the prisoners cleared for release by President Bush, or by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force. [...]

  37. “They Want Me to be Harmed”: Shaker Aamer, the Last British Resident in Guantánamo, Describes His Isolation | OzHouse Alt News says...

    [...] depressing about this state of affairs is that Shaker Aamer is not, to the best of our knowledge, one of the 82 prisoners at Guantánamo (out of the 171 remaining prisoners) that the Obama administration has determined [...]

  38. AS-SABIRUN » NEWS : Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago says...

    [...] at Guantánamo is that, of the 169 prisoners still held, over half — 87 in total — were cleared for release by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force. The Task Force involved around [...]

  39. Paul Siemering says...

    Hola Andy
    Debra Sweet, World Cant’t Wait, is sending this story around .
    So thanks again for your tenacious work.
    I’m fairly certain that the u.s. is run by a cabal of capitalists, and nobody can do what they don’t want. Obomber’s big, maybe only, crime is allowing himself to be used as their puppet. But it is a big crime just the same, and it is fair and right to blame him for the war crimes as long as he keeps covering for those guys. the thing he does with those drones is so monstrous i bet old bush don’t like it.
    but to return to your great work- exposing the disasters of imprisonment without charge or trial or legal counsel or habeas- this mighty task you’ve been doing so splendidly so long. and nearly alone too…. well, way to go. i am also very happy to see Debra promoting your work- gotta love that woman

    carry on mate

  40. Prisoners, cleared for release, still in Guantanamo | Dear Kitty. Some blog says...

    [...] at Guantánamo is that, of the 169 prisoners still held, over half — 87 in total — were cleared for release by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force. The Task Force involved around 60 [...]

  41. Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago | Wikileaks Australian Citizens Alliance says...

    [...] at Guantánamo is that, of the 169 prisoners still held, over half — 87 in total — werecleared for release by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force. The Task Force involved around [...]

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Paul. Great to hear from you, thanks for the very supportive words – and yes, thanks also to Debra. She really is tireless, and a great advocate for a just and fairer world.
    Anyone who doesn’t know about the World Can’t Wait, you can check it out here: http://www.worldcantwait.net/

  43. The Porcupine - At Guantánamo, Another Bleak Ramadan for 87 Cleared Prisoners Who Are Still Held by Andy Worthington says...

    [...] else are we to explain the pres­ence of 87 men whose release was approved by the Guan­tá­namo Review Task Force, appointed by Pres­i­dent Obama him­self, when he took office in Jan­u­ary 2009 and promised [...]

  44. At Guantánamo, Another Bleak Ramadan for 87 Cleared Prisoners Who Are Still Held « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] else are we to explain the presence of 87 men whose release was approved by the Guantánamo Review Task Force, appointed by President Obama himself, when he took office in January 2009 and promised to close [...]

  45. The Progressive Mind » Eleven Years after 9/11, Guantanamo Is a Political Prison says...

    [...] on an analysis of the cases of the 240 prisoners inherited from George W. Bush. The Task Force recommended that, of the 240 men held when Obama came to power, only 36 could be prosecuted. Forty-eight others [...]

  46. about our brother adnan , read this article where he is asking us ““Who Is Going to Rescue Me From the Injustice and the Torture I Am Enduring?” says...

    [...] year reviewing the cases of all the Guantánamo prisoners, and recommended, over a year ago, that 28 Yemenis should be released. However, when lawmakers and the right-wing media reacted with hysteria to the news that Umar [...]

  47. Guantánamo Bay Torture and I « elcidharth says...

    [...] a b Worthington, Andy (June 11, 2010). “Does Obama Really Know or Care About Who Is at Guantánamo?”. Retrieved July 21, [...]

  48. The Porcupine - At Guantánamo, Another Bleak Ramadan for 87 Cleared Prisoners Who Are Still Held by Andy Worthington says...

    [...] else are we to explain the presence of 87 men whose release was approved by the Guantánamo Review Task Force, appointed by President Obama himself, when he took office in January 2009 and promised to close [...]

  49. An Overture to Torture | elcidharth says...

    [...] a b Worthington, Andy (June 11, 2010). “Does Obama Really Know or Care About Who Is at Guantánamo?”. Retrieved July 21, [...]

  50. What Will it Take to Close Guantanamo?? says...

    [...] [...]

  51. Andy Worthington Discusses Guantánamo and WikiLeaks with Rob Kall of Op-Ed News | Dandelion Salad says...

    […] and I also spoke about the conflict between the prisoners’ ongoing habeas corpus petitions, and the findings of the Guantánamo Review Task Force, established by President Obama to review the Guantánamo cases in 2009, and how the mainstream […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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