Monday, February 22, 2016

Roadblock to Closing Gitmo: GOP-led United States Congress and No One Else

Will the Sun Ever Set on Gitmo
(highly unlikely with GOP-led Congress)

So, How's the Military Tribunal Thingy Working Out
(In a word: not so hot)

Call this a reflection on the issue of closure of Gitmo detainee center, Cuba and President Obama (2008) pledge to close it and how it stands today based on this article from The Hill – with this short intro:

The Pentagon is poised to submit a plan to Congress for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, a spokesman said today (Monday, February 22, 2016).

Navy Captain Jeff Davis said the administration will meet the Tuesday (February 23rd) deadline for submitting a proposal for closing the facility and moving its terrorist detainees, saying: “We understand that the deadline is tomorrow, and it's our intent to meet it [it, the plan] … will call for the closure of the detention facility and lay out several options on how to do so.”

President Obama is pushing to close the prison and fulfill a long-standing campaign promise before leaving office. Currently, there are 91 detainees remaining at the prison; several awaiting Military Tribunal trials.

The sticking point as in the past is this:

“Current law prohibits the use of funds … to transfer, release or assist in the transfer or release of detainees of Guantanamo Bay to or within the United States, and prohibits the construction, modification or acquisition of any facility within the United States to house any Guantanamo detainee.”

Therefore, the Pentagon Joint Staff cannot not take any action contrary to those Congressional restrictions. In short, the next step is up to Congress (how about a great big ha ha ha)…

Let’s review the background on the processing of detainees whether release with no charges or trials there Military Tribunal vs. Federal Trial:

Republicans have again voted against closing the prison at Gitmo by prohibiting the transfer of detainees to mainland American soil for Federal trials and along the way they also voted to affirm the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), in effect since 2001.

Amendments over the years would have ended the AUMF, but it is always defeated, thus stopping Mr. Obama from closing Gitmo.

The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) marks the 5th year in a row that Congress has blocked the President’s goals of fulfilling his pledge to close Gitmo. The congress will not end the “War on Terror.”

NYU’s Center on Law and Security released a terror trial "report card" covering the years 2001 to 2009 that claims there have been 337 federal terror cases, though each case can involve multiple defendants charged with multiple crimes. 

Then in March 2010, in response to questions from Congress about the numbers, the DOJ released its own report listing 403 individuals convicted of terror-related charges in 37 different states (including DC).

In December 2011, the group Human Rights First cited new DOJ figures to that put that updated number at 494, including 67 cases where the suspect was arrested outside the United States.

This Associated Press report from 2011 says the number of convictions in the U.S. is more than 2,500, though they are obviously using a much broader definition of "terror" than the feds do.

Military tribunals and detainees tried, convicted, released, etc., since 2001:

1.  Seven have been tried and convicted (3 are in prison, 2 had convictions overturned and they were released, and 2 were deported back to their native countries).

2.  Six still await trial including KSM and 5 others related to the 9/11 attack.


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.  Then ask Senator John McCain.

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 or commission 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 vs. 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


 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 for handing over terror suspect: $3,000 to $25,000

As Yogi Berra was fond to say, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” So, stay tuned, but sadly with all these years having passed since 2001 and all the data and pages to date on this matter, well …  it all makes it hard to proceed in any fashion to either (1) get justice for the real criminals in custody, and/or (2) appease the GOP at the same time, who quite frankly have but one view: “Keep ‘em locked up and throw away the damn key.”

Thanks for stopping by – come again.

No comments: