Saturday, February 8, 2014

Close Gitmo: In High Gear With High-Powered Signatures

Camp X-Ray Closed After Operating in 2002

Major Update (February 8, 2014) on a very important issue - one gathering more steam and now with some pretty notable names on a letter sent to President Obama, as reported on here, in part:

"One-time mentors and fundraisers for President Obama admonished him in an open letter just released for his failure to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

and they wrote:

“As you know, half of the prisoners still at Guantanamo — 77 of the 155 there — were cleared for transfer over four years ago by your Joint Task Force (JTF), yet they remain at Guantanamo Bay! They should be returned to their homes and families immediately.”

I agree, although this is a complex issue the mechanics are simple: not going to trial, not even considered for trial, not guilty of any crime, then release them, Mr. President. Imagine this were Vietnam and the Hanoi "Hilton" POW camp all over again... that was a huge stain on North Vietnam at the time, and this today is a huge stain on us. 

Original Post: Camp X-Ray was the temporary detention facility at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp of Joint Task Force Guantanamo on the U.S. Naval Base side of Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The first twenty detainees arrived there January 11, 2002.

It was named Camp X-Ray because various temporary camps in the station were named sequentially from the beginning and then from the end of the NATO phonetic alphabet. The legal status of detainees at the camp, as well as government processes for trying their cases, has been a significant source of controversy; with several landmark cases having reached the United States Supreme Court.

As of April 29, 2002, it was closed and all detainees were transferred to ultra-fancy and very expensive Camp Delta, which is actually comprised of 7 separate camps.

This update (January 22, 2014) is from MSNBC. It asks the question: How to get out of Gitmo – now

Five years ago today, President Obama issued an Executive Order outlining his plan to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay. Its population has been whittled down to 155 detainees but Guantánamo is still open — a continuing symbol not just of one of the United States’ more controversial post-September 11 counter-terrorism initiatives, but of one of the Obama administration’s more disheartening policy failures. 

Part of the problem has been a series of onerous restrictions Congress has placed on the transfer of detainees to their home countries, detention within the United States, or release. In the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress expanded the president’s power to send detainees home, but the bar on transfer into the United States remains. (I note: Congress apparently does not trust our civil courts even though hundreds of terrorists have been tried, convicted, and now sit in maximum security prisons in the U.S.)   

But the central obstacle to closing Guantánamo has been the fate of a core group of detainees —46, as of this writing — whom the government has designated as too dangerous to be released. And yet, in each of these cases an array of evidentiary or substantive roadblocks preclude a civilian or even military criminal trial. So long as this group exists, closing Guantánamo was never going to be synonymous with ending detention; even if the other remaining detainees can be sent overseas or tried here, there would still be the “un-releasable” 46.

Story continues at the link above. More on this later I am sure.

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