EXCLUSIVE: Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago

6.6.12

This investigative report is published simultaneously here, and on the website of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, which I established in January with US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

One of the greatest injustices 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 career officials from various government departments and the intelligence agencies, who spent the first year of the Obama Presidency reviewing the cases of all the remaining prisoners in Guantánamo, to decide whether they should be tried, released, or, in some cases, held indefinitely without charge or trial. The Task Force’s final report is here (PDF).

Exactly who these 87 men are is a closely held secret on the part of the administration, which is unfortunate for those of us working towards the closure of Guantánamo, as it prevents us from campaigning as effectively as we would like for the majority of these men, given that we are not entirely sure of their status. Attorneys for the prisoners have been told about their clients’ status, but that information — as with so much involving Guantánamo — is classified.

However, through recent research — into the classified military files about the Guantánamo prisoners, compiled by the Joint Task Force at the prison, which were released last year by WikiLeaks, as well as documents made available by the Bush administration, along with some additional information from the years of the Obama administration — I have been able to establish the identities of 40 men — 23 Yemenis, and 17 from other countries — who, between 2004 and 2009, were cleared for release by the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo, by military review boards under the Bush administration, or by President Obama’s Task Force, and to identify the official documents in which these decisions were noted.

The Task Force recommended 126 prisoners for release, including 29 Yemenis, and created a category of “conditional detention” for 30 more Yemenis, claiming that they could be held until the security situation in Yemen improved. However, as a result of the hysteria that greeted the news that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian citizen who tried and failed to detonate a bomb in his underwear on a flight into the US on Christmas Day 2009, had been recruited in Yemen, President Obama issued a moratorium on releasing any Yemenis from Guantánamo in January 2010. This is still in place nearly two and a half years later, even though no connection has been made between the Yemenis cleared for release from Guantánamo, and the al-Qaeda offshoot in Yemen — al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — that apparently recruited Abdulmutallab.

Of the 156 prisoners cleared for release by President Obama’s Task Force, 69 have been released since President Obama took office. The majority of the 40 men identified through my research were cleared during the Bush administration, between 2004 and 2008, but although it is possible that some of them subsequently had the recommendations for their release withdrawn, it is, I believe, fair to assume that the majority did not, and that the Task Force largely concurred with the decisions made by military review boards under the Bush administration.

As a result, I believe it is fair to say that the 40 names that I have identified clarify who has been cleared for release to a greater extent than has previously been revealed.

Please also note that 35 Yemenis and 12 others remain to be identified, to make the figure of 87 identified in the Guantánamo Review Task Force’s report in January 2010.

What this analysis makes clear is that almost a quarter of the prisoners still held at Guantánamo — men that the US government acknowledges it does not want to continue holding, or to put on trial — have been waiting for their freedom for between four and eight years, a statistic that ought to shock anyone concerned with fairness and justice. It is a profound disgrace that these men are still held, and three courses of action need to be implemented as soon as possible:

  • Dropping the moratorium of January 2010 and releasing the 28 Yemenis cleared for immediate release by the Guantánamo Review Task Force in 2009;
  • Urgently resuming the search for new homes in other countries for other cleared prisoners who cannot be safely repatriated; and
  • If this is not feasible, releasing those who cannot be repatriated into the United States, to resume their lives in the country that has been responsible for continuing to hold them, even when cleared for release.

Below are the prisoners whose approval for release I identified during intensive searches of publicly available documents:

40 prisoners still at Guantánamo who have been cleared for release (out of 87 in total) — 23 Yemenis and 17 others

1. ISN 026 Fahed Ghazi (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Ghazi’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated July 28, 2006. A transfer recommendation was also made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on October 30, 2007 (PDF, p. 44).

2. ISN 034 Abdullah Al Yafi (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Yafi’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated April 5, 2007. A transfer recommendation was also made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on October 30, 2007 (PDF, p. 121).

3. ISN 038 Ridah Al Yazidi (Tunisia) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Yazidi’s file was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated June 6, 2007, which repeated a similar recommendation issued on July 1, 2006. However, a transfer recommendation was made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on November 19, 2007 (PDF, p. 160). In addition, on September 28, 2009, Reuters reported that a list posted in Guantánamo “to let the prisoners know how many from each nation have been judged free to go” included nine Tunisians, and with four subsequently released or transferred to Italian custody, that means that the list must have included the five Tunisians who remain.

4. ISN 115 Abdul Rahman Naser (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Naser’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated January 1, 2007, in which it was also noted, “Detainee is on a list of high-risk detainees from a health perspective but is in overall fair health. Detainee has a history of Major Depressive Disorder which is controlled with frequent follow up to mental health services but he refuses antidepressant treatment.”

5. ISN 152 Asim Al Khalaqi (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Khalaqi’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated January 1, 2007. A transfer recommendation (for “transfer with conditions”) was also made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on August 20, 2007 (PDF, p. 159).

6. ISN 156 Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Latif’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated December 18, 2006. Latif subsequently had his habeas corpus petition granted, in July 2010, but that ruling was overturned on appeal in October 2011. He has since appealed to the Supreme Court. Also see his letters from Guantánamo, here, here and here.

7. ISN 163 Khalid Al Qadasi (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Qadasi’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated January 22, 2007.

8. ISN 165 Said Al Busayss (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Busayss’s file was a “Recommendation to Transfer to the Control of Another Country for Continued Detention(TRCD),” dated September 3, 2004. He was also approved for transfer/release after Administrative Review Board Round One, which was held at Guantánamo in 2005 (see PDF).

9. ISN 167 Ali Yahya Al Raimi (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Raimi’s file was a “Recommendation to Transfer to the Control of Another Country for Continued Detention (TRCD),” dated October 29, 2004. He was also approved for transfer/release after Administrative Review Board Round One, which was held at Guantánamo in 2005 (see PDF).

10. ISN 168 Adel Hakeemy (Tunisia) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Hakeemy’s file was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated November 4, 2007, which repeated a similar recommendation issued on August 11, 2006. However, a transfer recommendation was made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on March 17, 2007 (see PDF, p. 194). In addition, on September 28, 2009, Reuters reported that a list posted in Guantánamo “to let the prisoners know how many from each nation have been judged free to go” included nine Tunisians, and with four subsequently released or transferred to Italian custody, that means that the list must have included the five Tunisians who remain.

11. ISN 174 Hisham Sliti (Tunisia) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Sliti’s file was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated October 1, 2008, which repeated a similar recommendation issued on May 22, 2007. In December 2008, he had his habeas corpus petition denied, but on September 28, 2009, Reuters reported that a list posted in Guantánamo “to let the prisoners know how many from each nation have been judged free to go” included nine Tunisians, and with four subsequently released or transferred to Italian custody, that means that the list must have included the five Tunisians who remain.

12. ISN 200 Said Al Qahtani (Saudi Arabia) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, it was noted that, sometime before January 5, 2009, there was a “Designated Civilian Official (DCO) Decision to Transfer” al-Qahtani, although the Joint Task Force issued a response on that date, which “reaffirm[ed] the 17-May-2008 recommendation for the continued detention of SA-200,” based on a determination that he posed a high risk.

13. ISN 202 Mahmoud Bin Atef (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, bin Atef’s file was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated December 28, 2007, which repeated a similar recommendation issued on December 16, 2006. However, he was approved for transfer/release after Administrative Review Board Round One, which was held at Guantanamo in 2005 (see PDF).

14. ISN 224 Abdul Rahman Muhammad (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Muhammad’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated January 14, 2007.

15. ISN 238 Nabil Hadjarab (Algeria) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Hadjarab’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated January 22, 2007, and he was told that he had been cleared for release in April 2007. A transfer recommendation was also made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on September 18, 2007 (PDF, p. 386). His lawyers, at the London-based legal action charity Reprieve, have worked hard to secure his release in France, where his extended family lives, and where he spent much of his youth, but to no avail, as I explained in a recent article.

16. ISN 239 Shaker Aamer (UK-Saudi Arabia) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Aamer’s file was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated November 1, 2007. However, he was told he was approved for transfer in March 2007, and it is believed that he has been approved for transfer under President Obama, as three British MPs explained in a letter to Congress on December 1, 2011. Since August 2007, successive British governments have also claimed that they have tried to secure his release, but that the the ultimate decision rests with the US, an argument that his lawyers, and campaigners for his release, do not find credible.

17. ISN 249 Mohammed Al Hamiri (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Hamiri’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated April 1, 2007.

18. ISN 251 Mohammed Bin Salem (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, bin Salem’s file was a “Recommendation to Transfer to the Control of Another Country for Continued Detention (TRCD),” dated April 14, 2004. He was also approved for transfer/release after Administrative Review Board Round One, which was held at Guantánamo in 2005 (see PDF).

19. ISN 255 Saeed Hatim (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Hatim’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated January 9, 2007. He subsequently had his habeas corpus petition granted, in December 2009, when Judge Ricardo Urbina found that the government’s allegations against him were, as Amnesty International noted, based “almost entirely upon admissions made by the petitioner himself — admissions that the petitioner contends he made only because he had previously been tortured while in US custody.” Amnesty added, “Significantly, the government does not contest the petitioner’s claims of torture.” However, that ruling was vacated on appeal in February 2011, and sent back to the District Court to reconsider.

20. ISN 257 Umar Abdulayev (Tajikistan) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Abdulayev’s file was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated February 27, 2008, which repeated a similar recommendation issued on August 1, 2007. However, he was approved for transfer by President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force in July 2009.

21. ISN 259 Fadil Hintif (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Hintif’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated January 9, 2007. A transfer recommendation was also made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on August 29, 2007 (PDF, p. 490).

22. ISN 275 Yusef Abbas (China) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Abbas’s file was a “Recommendation to Transfer to the Control of Another Country for Continued Detention (TRCD),” dated February 14, 2004. Abbas had his habeas corpus petition granted in October 2008, when Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered his release into the US along with 16 other Uighurs (Muslims from China’s Xinjiang province), but the D.C. Circuit reversed this ruling under President Obama, in February 2009, deciding that matters of immigration are for the executive branch, and not the courts to decide. 14 of the 17 Uighurs have now been freed in other countries (Bermuda, Palau, Switzerland and El Salvador), but three — including Yusef Abbas — remain.

23. ISN 280 Saidullah Khalik (China) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Khalik’s file was a “Recommendation to Transfer to the Control of Another Country for Continued Detention (TRCD),” dated February 21, 2004. Khalik had his habeas corpus petition granted in October 2008, when Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered his release into the US along with 16 other Uighurs (Muslims from China’s Xinjiang province), but the D.C. Circuit reversed this ruling under President Obama, in February 2009, deciding that matters of immigration are for the executive branch, and not the courts to decide. 14 of the 17 Uighurs have now been freed in other countries (Bermuda, Palau, Switzerland and El Salvador), but three — including Saidullah Khalik — remain.

24. ISN 282 Hajiakbar Abdulghupur (China) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Abdulghupur’s file was a “Recommendation to Transfer to the Control of Another Country for Continued Detention (TRCD),” dated February 21, 2004. Abdulghupur had his habeas corpus petition granted in October 2008, when Judge Ricardo Urbina ordered his release into the US along with 16 other Uighurs (Muslims from China’s Xinjiang province), but the D.C. Circuit reversed this ruling under President Obama, in February 2009, deciding that matters of immigration are for the executive branch, and not the courts to decide. 14 of the 17 Uighurs have now been freed in other countries (Bermuda, Palau, Switzerland and El Salvador), but three — including Hajiakbar Abdulghupur — remain.

25. ISN 288 Motai Saib (Algeria) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Saib’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated January 9, 2007. A transfer recommendation was also made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on June 4, 2007 (PDF, p. 526).

26. ISN 290 Ahmed Belbacha (Algeria) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Belbacha’s file was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated January 15, 2006, although it was also noted, “If a satisfactory agreement can be reached that ensures continued detention and allows access to detainee and/or to exploited intelligence, detainee can be Transferred Out of DoD Control (TRO).” Belbacha was then approved for transfer/release after Administrative Review Board Round Two, which was held at Guantánamo in 2006 (see PDF), and was told that he had been cleared for release in February 2007. He has since been fighting to prevent his return to Algeria, where he was tried in absentia in 2010 and given a 20-year sentence in a show trial, and awaits a country that will take him. Residents in Amherst, Massachusetts, and in Bournemouth in the UK, where he lived and worked from 1999 to 2001, have offered to take him in, but the US and UK governments are opposed to the proposals.

27. ISN 310 Djamel Ameziane (Algeria) No recommendation was listed in his military file on August 21, 2008, although he was assessed as a high risk. However, his lawyers have been actively seeking a new home for him in a third country, and it is clear that he is one of the six Algerians referred to in the Washington Post article, “Six detainees would rather stay at Guantánamo Bay than be returned to Algeria,” published on July 10, 2010. On March 30, 2012, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a key part of the Organization of American States (OAS), accepted jurisdiction over his case. Announcing the decision, his lawyers at the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights stated, “The IACHR will now move to gather more information on the substantive human rights law violations suffered by Djamel Ameziane — including the harsh conditions of confinement he has endured, the abuses inflicted on him, and the illegality of his detention.”

28. ISN 440  Mohammed Bawazir (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Bawazir’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated May 30, 2007.

29. ISN 461 Abdul Rahman Al Qyati (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Qyati’s file was a “Recommendation to Transfer to the Control of Another Country for Continued Detention (TRCD),” dated September 10, 2004. He was also approved for transfer/release after Administrative Review Board Round One, which was held at Guantanamo in 2005 (see PDF).

30. ISN 502 Abdul Ourgy (Tunisia) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Ourgy’s file was a “Recommendation for Continued Detention Under DoD Control (CD),” dated June 22, 2007, which repeated a similar recommendation issued on June 15, 2006. However, a transfer recommendation was made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on December 20, 2007 (PDF, p. 185). In addition, on September 28, 2009, Reuters reported that a list posted in Guantánamo “to let the prisoners know how many from each nation have been judged free to go” included nine Tunisians, and with four subsequently released or transferred to Italian custody, that means that the list must have included the five Tunisians who remain.

31. ISN 506 Khalid Al Dhuby (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Dhuby’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated December 25, 2006. A transfer recommendation was also made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on May 22, 2007 (PDF, p. 195).

32. ISN 511 Sulaiman Al Nahdi (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Nahdi’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated August 13, 2007. Al-Nahdi subsequently had his habeas corpus petition denied, in February 2010.

33. ISN 535 Tariq El Sawah (Egypt) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, El-Sawah’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated September 30, 2008, in which it was also noted, “Detainee is on a list of high-risk detainees from a health perspective.” However, on December 16, 2008, he was put forward for a trial by military commission.  He is not currently charged, and, as the Washington Post explained in March 2010, he is regarded as one of “the most significant informants ever to be held at Guantánamo,” and, with another informant, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, is housed separately from the other prisoners, with extra privileges. As the Post also noted:

Some military officials believe the United States should let them go — and put them into a witness protection program, in conjunction with allies, in a bid to cultivate more informants. “I don’t see why they aren’t given asylum,” said W. Patrick Lang, a retired senior military intelligence officer. “If we don’t do this right, it will be that much harder to get other people to cooperate with us. And if I was still in the business, I’d want it known we protected them. It’s good advertising.” A current military official at Guantánamo suggested that that argument was fair. Still, he said, it’s “a hard-sell argument around here.”

34. ISN 553 Abdul Khaliq Al Baidhani (Yemen, but listed as Saudi Arabia) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Baidhani’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated December 16, 2006.

35. ISN 554 Fehmi Al Assani (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Assani’s file was a “Recommendation to Retain under DoD Control (DoD),” dated October 22, 2004. However, a transfer recommendation was made after his Administrative Review Board Round Three, on July 30, 2007 (PDF, p. 338), although he then had his habeas corpus petition denied, in February 2010.

36. ISN 566 Mansoor Qattaa (Yemen, but listed as Saudi Arabia) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Qattaa’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated June 9, 2007.

37. ISN 572 Salah Al Zabe (Yemen, but listed as Saudi Arabia) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, al-Zabe’s file was a “Recommendation to Transfer to the Control of Another Country for Continued Detention (TRCD),” dated September 3, 2004. He was also approved for transfer/release after Administrative Review Board Round One, which was held at Guantánamo in 2005 (see PDF).

38. ISN 684 Mohammed Tahamuttan (Palestine) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Tahamuttan’s file was a “Recommendation for Transfer Out of DoD Control (TRO),” dated October 9, 2007. In August 2009, he was one of three prisoners considered for resettlement in Germany, but only the other two were accepted, largely, it seems, for political reasons. In July 2010, Der Spiegel noted that Tahamuttan had “made a good impression on the Germans,” but that his rejection was a move that was “probably intended primarily to send a political message at home in Germany,” where it was thought that Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière “felt that he had to show the many members of his party who had opposed reaching an agreement with the United States on Guantánamo that he was not blindly obeying the Americans.”

39. ISN 894 Mohammed Abdul Rahman (Tunisia) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, Abdul Rahman’s file was a “Recommendation to Release or Transfer to the Control of Another Country for Continued Detention (TR),” dated June 27, 2004, in which it was also noted that he “had a mechanical heart valve placed in 1999,” and “has chronic problems with his heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation),” and also “has a history of kidney stones, latent tuberculosis, depression and high blood pressure. He is also on chronic anticoagulation (blood thinners).” Abdul Rahman (also known as Lotfi bin Ali) was also approved for transfer/release after Administrative Review Board Round One, which was held at Guantánamo in 2005 (see PDF). In addition, on September 28, 2009, Reuters reported that a list posted in Guantánamo “to let the prisoners know how many from each nation have been judged free to go” included nine Tunisians, and with four subsequently released or transferred to Italian custody, that means that the list must have included the five Tunisians who remain.

40. ISN 1015 Hussein Almerfedi (Yemen) In the classified US military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, it was noted that, sometime before January 14, 2009, there was a “Designated Civilian Official (DCO) Decision to Transfer” Almerfedi, although the Joint Task Force issued a response on that date, which “reaffirm[ed] the 28 April 2008 recommendation for the continued detention of YM-1015,” based on a determination that he posed a high risk. He subsequently had his habeas corpus petition granted, in July 2010, but that ruling was reversed on appeal in July 2011.

To demand the release of these prisoners, and the 47 others cleared for release who have not been identified, please write to: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington D.C. 20520.

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, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

44 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Mary Shepard wrote:

    This is unconscionable.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Mary. Yes, it is! And I’m hoping that this article might help to stir up some indignation from people who didn’t know, who have forgotten, or who have given up and have Guantanamo fatigue, or Obama fatigue.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    On Digg, cosmicsurfer wrote:

    Indefinite Detention – Prison without trial, without charge, without rights, without justice…..THE AMERICAN WAY

    All the whining about the NDAA by scared Americans that Obama can imprison people without charge.
    GEEZ people, BUSH AND OBAMA have been doing it for YEARS already

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

    [...] opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.(here) ACT AND JOIN THE PROTEST [...]

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, cosmicsurfer. I hope your point is well taken. The root of all the problems with Congress, in the NDAA, claiming that people can be held indefinitely in military custody without charge or trial can be found in Guantanamo, where it remains in force, ten and half years later, with no sign of when, if ever, any of the remaining prisoners will be released.

    Cleared for release, since 2007? Or since 2004? Lawmakers don’t care. The administration doesn’t care. The courts don’t care. Apparently the American people don’t care either. Why bother pretending that any of these men were ever going to be released? Why indulge in military review boards, or detainee assessment briefs, or the deliberations of President Obama’s Guantanamo Review Task Force, when none of the decisions made actually mean anything?

    Release these men, and resume the long-delayed process of closing Guantanamo down!

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Back on Facebook, Asif Rana wrote:

    Great piece and unbelievable story. They really do want us to forget about this don’t they?

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, Asif. That’s exactly right. “Move along, nothing to see here. Bush has gone. Obama told you he was here to bring hope and change. What is there to complain about?”
    Disgraceful. I refuse to bow down and take my amnesia pills.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Mary Shepard wrote:

    Obama wants us to believe he won’t imprison anybody anymore – he’ll just kill them with drones. I still can’t believe he was given the Nobel Peace Prize.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Asif Rana wrote:

    It’s a very bad situation Andy. Mary, I couldn’t believe it either, but I can’t blame them, out of sheer desperation they gave him it. But there are those in the US, who hold the real power, and they ensure that Obama does what he is told. I wonder about how all those “Yes, we can” people feel now?

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, Mary and Asif, and the many people who have been liking and sharing this – and Digging and Tweeting it too. Thanks to all of you for showing that you care, and that there are no good reasons for President Obama to be holding onto men who, in some cases, have been “approved for transfer” on three separate occasions over the last eight years. Whatever the reason for these men’s continued detention – and it seems to be a mixture of cynicism, incompetence, cowardice, and political expediency – it is unacceptable.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Sylvia Martin wrote:

    Thank you, Andy.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    And thank you, Sylvia. Good to hear from you.

  13. arcticredriver says...

    This is an important article Andy.

    WRT the “designated civilian official“ — what a hollow charade that was. Were we really supposed to believe that the DCO, Gordon England, was exercising independent judgment as he moon-lit at this part-time gig, while back at his day-job he was first Secretary of the Navy, and subsequently Deputy Secretary of Defense…

    You made the excellent point in earlier articles how depressing it was for men who knew they had been cleared for release by an OARDEC annual status review, and yet continued to languish in detention, only to see men who had not been cleared for release, like Said Ali Al Shiri, repatriated for some political purpose. In your excellent narratives of what the wikileaks assessment briefs have to say about the captives you are mid-way through 2007. Did I discuss with you how BBC journalists branded the cohort of Saudis repatriated with Al Shiri “block 10“ because so many of them were later to appear in Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Did I share how almost all of that cohort was repatriated in spite of recommendations for continued detention…

    Isn`t it ironic that although the Bush administration kept far too much information classified, nominally to protect national security, there has been many more documents to study about the captives from that time than there have been about the Obama period joint agency reviews…

    We haven`t seen their allegation memos. We haven`t seen their decision reports memos.

    Those joint agency reviews were supposed to be periodic, and we don`t even know whether the agency conducted the second and subsequent rounds of reviews.

    We don`t know if they were able to bring any more independence of mind to bear, whether they were able to do any of the sanity checking so heart-breakingly absent from the OARDEC reviews. We don`t know whether allegations that have been discredited were dropped from their files — another very serious flaw in the OARDEC reviews.

    Thanks again.

  14. martina Lauer says...

    Guantanamo shows the true face of American and Western foreign policies. Our liberal democracies forget about the rule of law in the “wars on terror”. This has to end! Now!

  15. NewsLinks | Intrepid Report.com says...

    [...] EXCLUSIVE: Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Ye… [...]

  16. Aser Rehman Mir says...

    Excellent! Shared on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Hoping to purchase your book on the AmazonKindle. Great work and keep going…

  17. Michael Chavez says...

    The treatment of innocent people, regardless of where they are being held, is truly reprehensible. Please visit my blog and read my view on this topic at: http://mjchavez.com/wp/

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    In response to 13, above:

    Thanks, arcticredriver. Your support is greatly appreciated, as always. It is, as you note – and as I could have perhaps emphasized more in the article – noteworthy that Obama, who once promised transparency, has released no information explaining how his Task Force made its decisions. I also wonder why we have heard nothing – not even an announcement – about any periodic reviews for the prisoners since the Task Force issued its report in January 2010, and Obama issued his indefinite detention executive order in March 2011. Is there anything going on? Or is the Obama administration not even bothering to review any of these men’s cases anymore?

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    In response to 14, above:

    Thanks for the comments, Martina. Good to hear from you.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    In response to 17, above:

    Thank you, Michael. And your book, “Creed,” sounds very interesting. Readers are encouraged to check out Michael’s blog post here: http://mjchavez.com/wp/2012/06/09/an-authors-view-of-justice-denied/

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    In response to 16, above:

    Thanks, Aser, very good to hear from you.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Mary Shepard wrote:

    I find it impossible to believe that the US or the “western world” is actually under such enormous threats as the US tries to make us all believe. There is just something too Orwellian about this whole “war on terror,” which seems to be contrived and politically motivated. Funny, isn’t it, how so many “terrorist plots” seem to be uncovered during an election year, isn’t it? Funny also, how the surveillance and arms industries have become mega-giant corporations and have the power to dictate government policy. Funnier yet is how the lessons of the past have been lost, whether they’re the horror of Hitler’s concentration camps, the Japanese internment camps, Agent Orange, Watergate – and that the powers that be simply make up the rules as they go, and similarly change them at will. I have begun to feel that anyone who is complacent in this, including the issue of Guantanamo and the detainees there, is a de facto accomplice. When will the cost in human lives, and in our own souls, be too high?

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    Well done Andy for all you do to educate and expose…

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    SisterTogether Filleh wrote:

    i found that the article was excellent and i could see a lot of efforts of research specially the 40 cases u did… was excellent … i just bought since beginning of guantanamo u always been a voice for it , thank you

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Mary, Carol and Sister,
    Very good to hear from you all – and thanks to everyone who has liked and shared this in the last few days, while I’ve been away camping in Devon with friends and family.
    And that’s a really great analysis, Mary. People should think much more about political timing, and also about the colossal, self-fulfilling cost of the intelligence industry.

  26. Half of Prisoners Still Held at Guantánamo Have Actually been Cleared for Release | OzHouse Alt News says...

    [...] Learn More: Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago (Andy Worthington) Guantánamo Files Reveal Confused Mixture of Innocents Detained and Terrorists [...]

  27. arcticredriver says...

    I came across this document today. It may not be new to you, but it was new to me, and may shed some light on how the Obama Joint Task Force operated…
    http://www.pegc.us/archive/Gitmo_Task_Force/task-force-memo-5-12-09.pdf

    The document is a motion to the judges implementing the habeas review, drafted by senior officials by the Department of Justice.
    It claims the DoJ and DoD had — /already/ — performed an extensive search for exculpatory evidence. I don’t believe that for one minute. If that were true they would have dropped their objections to the repatriation of most of the remaining captives.

    One of the chapters of this document is entitled “BECAUSE COMPREHENSIVE REVIEWS OF TASK FORCE INFORMATION WOULD ENTAIL UNWARRANTED DELAYS AND COMMITMENTS OF GOVERNMENT RESOURCES, THEY SHOULD BE REQUIRED, IF AT ALL, ONLY IN CAREFULLY CIRCUMSCRIBED SITUATIONS.”

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    This looks fascinating, arcticredriver. Well done for digging it up. I look forward to finding time to review it thoroughly.

  29. Meet the Seven Guantánamo Prisoners Whose Appeals Were Turned Down by the Supreme Court | Cii Broadcasting says...

    [...] week, we secured some good coverage for our exclusive report, “Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago,” with the report’s author, Andy Worthington, being interviewed on RT and Democracy Now! to [...]

  30. Meet the Seven Guantánamo Prisoners Whose Appeals Were Turned Down by the Supreme Court | Eslkevin's Blog says...

    [...] week, we secured some good coverage for our exclusive report, “Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago,” with the report’s author, Andy Worthington, being interviewed on RT and Democracy Now! to [...]

  31. Lawyers for Adnan Latif, the Latest Prisoner to Die at Guantánamo, Issue A Statement says...

    [...] was one of the prisoners profiled in the major report I wrote in June, Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago, andthe overturning of his successful habeas corpus petition by politically motivated judges in [...]

  32. Statement by Lawyers for Adnan Latif, the Latest Prisoner to Die at Guantánamo says...

    [...] was one of the prisoners profiled in the major report I wrote in June, Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago, and the overturning of his successful habeas corpus petition by politically motivated judges in [...]

  33. Obama Releases Names of Cleared Guantánamo Prisoners; Now It’s Time to Set Them Free « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] June this year, I produced a report, “Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago,” in which I identified 40 prisoners cleared for release under President Bush, but never freed, [...]

  34. Last Brit in Guantanamo; Parliamentary Meeting Oct 29th Hse of Commons | Radio Free Brighton says...

    [...] names were pre­vi­ously known, as we revealed here in June, in an exclus­ive report entitled, “Guantá­namo Scan­dal: The 40 Pris­on­ers Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years….” Shaker was one of the 28 men named in that report, but whereas almost every­one else in the [...]

  35. A Demand for “Freedom and Justice” from Shaker Aamer in Guantánamo « freedetainees.org says...

    [...] these names were previously known, as we revealed here in June, in an exclusive report entitled, “Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago.” Shaker was one of the 28 men named in that report, but whereas almost everyone else in the [...]

  36. Eleven Years On: Being Imprisoned at Guantanamo Worse Than Being Confined by Totalitarian State | BirchIndigo says...

    [...] to a report from Worthington on June 6, 2012, forty prisoners were cleared for release as early as five years [...]

  37. Eleven Years On: Being Imprisoned at Guantanamo Worse Than Being Confined by Totalitarian State says...

    [...] to a report from Worthington on June 6, 2012, forty prisoners were cleared for release as early as five years [...]

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

    [...] States believes in fairness and justice. As we demonstrated in our report last month, entitled, “Guantánamo Scandal: The 40 Prisoners Still Held But Cleared for Release At Least Five Years Ago,” some of these men were cleared eight years ago, and yet they are [...]

  39. More than Half of Guantánamo Detainees Now on Hunger Strike | Moral Low Ground says...

    [...] the 166 detainees, 87 have been cleared for release, some since as far back as George W. Bush’s first term in office. President Barack [...]

  40. Torturing Guantánamo's Hunger Strikers | Moral Low Ground says...

    [...] More than half of the 166 remaining GITMO detainees have been cleared for release, some of them since as far back as 2004. Some have been cleared multiple times. Adnan Latif, a Yemeni who’d been cleared three times– twice during the Bush administration and once under Obama– killed himself after years of indefinite detention and torture. He’d been unjustly imprisoned without charge or trial for more than a decade. Dozens of Yemenis have been cleared for release but President Obama refuses to repatriate them due to the current political climate in their home country. Collective punishment for a situation they have nothing to do with is the soul-crushing reality for GITMO’s Yemeni prisoners. [...]

  41. Eleven Years After 9/11, Guantánamo Is A Political Prison | IndepthAfrica says...

    [...] the fact that many of those men were first cleared by military review boards under President Bush between five and eight years ago, and in spite of the fact that holding them indefinitely constitutes a type of guilt by nationality [...]

  42. Panel: CIA Forced Doctors to Torture Detainees | Moral Low Ground says...

    […] hunger striking detainees at Guantánamo Bay, where the majority of remaining detainees have been cleared for release– some since 2004– but are still being imprisoned by the United States. Force-feeding […]

  43. Closing Gitmo Isn’t Nearly Enough | Michigan Standard says...

    […] remain because the administration simply finds it inconvenient to let them go. As of last year, 87 out of 169 remaining detainees had been cleared for release by the administration’s own task force. Forty of them were cleared for release over five […]

  44. Closing Gitmo Isn’t Nearly Enough | Traces of Reality by Guillermo Jimenez says...

    […] remain because the administration simply finds it inconvenient to let them go. As of last year, 87 out of 169 remaining detainees had been cleared for release by the administration’s own task force. Forty of them were cleared for release over five years […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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