Friday, June 6, 2014

86 Cleared for Release: Could Have Been Swapped for Bergdahl

Trials at Gitmo: Scarce, Ineffective, Wasteful, and Not Due Process 

You are Cleared for Release — No Charges Filed

Lengthy Update on the Following - Lot's of Numbers and Data:

Gitmo Facts and Figures:

  • 403:  Individuals tried/convicted of terrorism in 37 states; most serving life.
  • 779:  Detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay since September 11, 2001.
  • 600:  Roughly 600 released without charges, many after many years.
  • 155:  Number of detainees remaining at Guantanamo.
  • 86:  Number of the 155 detainees approved for transfer but remain at Guantanamo.
  • 15:  Number under age 18 who were imprisoned at Guantanamo
  • 9:  Number at Guantanamo who died while in custody; six by suspected suicide.
  • 7:  Number convicted by military commissions after trial or plea bargain.
  • 6:  Of 155 only six: Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and 5  9/11 co-defendants face charges. 
Note:  There also is a lot of confusion and a disconnect about the exact number of detainees released and “returned to the battlefield.” The numbers all over the map — take look here ...  The numbers range from 6 or so to a few dozen to who knows? A: No one knows for sure … too much confusion about names, spelling, and actual tracking since we don’t get their active duty roster or KIA reports.

Why there are no large number of prosecutions at Gitmo: First and foremost, blame Congress... cite:

Over the past two years, Congress has enacted legislation blocking the transfer of detainees at Guantanamo to the United States for civilian trial. One aim of the legislation is to compel the government to try terrorism suspects before military commissions at Guantanamo rather than in federal courts. While the rules governing military commissions have improved under President Obama, the system at Guantanamo remains deeply flawed, preventing fair trials. Meanwhile, federal courts have been far more effective at prosecuting terrorism cases.

FYI - Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, New York University's Center on Law and Security reports that 578 terrorism-related cases, inspired by Jihadist ideas have been prosecuted in US federal courts (FACTS AND FIGURES: 2001-2011). During that same period the military commissions in Guantanamo have completed only seven cases.

Now just imagine if North Vietnam had played by current GOP rules regarding prisoner swaps with our POW’s? Think seriously hard about that question.  The hard data follows.

The Detainees:

Total number of detainees ever incarcerated at Guantánamo: 779
Detainees released under President Bush: over 500
Detainees at start of Obama Presidency: 242
Number of 242 detainees approved for release: 126
Detainees transferred, repatriated or resettled under Obama: 72
Detainees transferred to US for prosecution: 1
Detainees who died in custody since January 2009: 4
Detainees currently held at Guantánamo: 166
Remaining detainees approved for release: 86
Detainees convicted by military commission before 2009 and still held at Guantánamo: 1
Detainees Obama designated for trial including those tried since January 2009: 36
Detainees Obama designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial: 46
Yemenis not included in above totals under conditional detention: 30
Number of countries that have accepted Guantánamo detainees: 52

Financial Costs:

Yearly cost to U.S. taxpayers of a federal prisoner: $25,000
Yearly cost to hold each captive at Guantánamo instead of federal prison: $800,000
Annual cost to operate Guantánamo: Approximately $150 million

Federal Courts & Challenges to Military Commissions:

Federal court convictions since 9/11 on terrorism-related charges: Nearly 500
Detainees convicted by GTMO military commission: 7
Detainees prosecuted in U.S. federal courts: 1 -- Ahmed Ghailani
Detainees federal courts have determined were being held unlawfully: 38
Detainees who have lost their Habeas Corpus petitions challenging their detention: 21
Times military commissions have been re-vamped: 3
Cases involving detainee rights that have gone before the U.S. Supreme Court: 4
Times Supreme Court Justices have sided with the detainees: 4

Federal Prisons Holding Terrorists:

  Convicted of terrorism-related charges being held in U.S. prisons: 355
 Convicted of terrorism and escaped from any federal prison system: 0

Deaths in Custody: Detainees who have died at Guantánamo: 9

Additional History:

First detainees brought to Guantánamo: January 11, 2002
Last known arrival: March 14, 2008
Last known departure: September 29, 2012
Military commissions first established: November 13, 2001
Bounties paid by Bush to anyone handing over possible terror suspect: $3,000 to $25,000

Original post starts here from the Washington Post one year ago: For 86 prisoners held at Gitmo, their plight is almost Kafkaesque in its cruel absurdity.

The United States believes these 86 should be released since they have been cleared for release years ago and since they have not been found guilty of any crime and are not an immediate threat. The reason: diplomatic and political hurdles are out of their control and used as roadblocks.

The Obama administration doesn't want to keep these prisoners locked up in Gitmo, which is both politically and diplomatically costly, not to mention antithetical to Obama's stated desire to close the prison. However, Congress has forbidden them from being transferred to anyplace on U.S. soil.

Although the Obama administration had searched for foreign countries to which the detainees could be released, it appears to have since given up, having closed the office responsible for finding those countries willing to take them - including their native countries.

This from a man who knows Gitmo, he asks: "Should we close Gitmo? Absolutely. It’s a blight on our history and I say this as a man who helped create it” said retired General Michael Lehnert, who 12 years ago was given orders to build cells at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, which the United States has “leased” from Cuba for more than 100 years. Gen. Lehnert now says that in the wake of the 9/11 attacks the opening of Guantanamo was understandable, but can now be seen to be a tragic mistake.

Just imagine if this were North Vietnam and they still held American detainees there ... would we tolerate such treatment? Very doubtful. Plus, the fact that the military tribunals at Gitmo have been very ineffective vis-á-vis civilian courts.

This is a huge stain on the country that is not apt to disappear anytime soon. Whose fault - check the nearest mirror, Mr. and Mrs. Congressional Member.

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