Saturday, June 18, 2016

Gitmo Detainees at a Glance: The Numbers There Since

Cost Comparison Snapshot
(Federal Lockup vs. Gitmo)

1.  A total of 775 detainees have been brought to Guantanamo. Although most of these have been released without charge, we continue to classify many of those released detainees as “enemy combatants.” 

As of June 13, 2016, 80 detainees remained locked up at Guantanamo.

2.  In 2002, Camp Delta was opened to hold detainees swept up in the “War on Terror.”

Seems this scenario will play out until and through the November election, despite efforts by the Obama team to close Gitmo and shift detainee trials to Federal jurisdiction and close that chapter that still stains our entire system.

Myth: Terrorists have traditionally been tried in military commissions.

FactFederal civilian criminal courts have convicted more than 500 individuals on terrorism-related charges since 9/11Military commissions have convicted only eight, four of which have been overturned completely. Federal courts have convicted many high-profile terrorists, including “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid, Ramzi Yousef (1993 World Trade Center bombing), Faisal Shahzad (Times Square bomber), and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith (Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law) in March 2014.

Myth: Military commissions are better equipped to handle terror cases.

Fact: Federal courts have more tools to try terrorists than military commissions. Federal courts, unlike military commissions, can try suspects for offenses involving fraud, immigration, firearms, and drugs. In addition, convictions for crimes of conspiracy and material support before a military commission, rather than a federal court, have been overturned on appeal because these crimes have not generally been considered war crimes. While Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, was convicted of terrorism-related offenses just over a year after he was captured, the military commission trial for the alleged 9/11 perpetrators has remained mired in pre-trial hearings since May 2012.

Myth: Federal prisons cannot safely detain terror suspects.

Fact: Federal prisons hold hundreds of individuals convicted of terrorism-related offenses. None have ever escaped. Guantanamo is also much more expensive than federal prisons, costing more than $5 million per prisoner annually, compared to less than $78,000 in a comparable maximum security federal prison.

Myth: Terrorism trials in federal court risk the safety of Americans.

Fact: None of the districts that have tried terrorism suspects have been attacked in response, and Guantanamo actually hinders counter-terrorism efforts. 

Myth: Terror suspects should be tried before military commissions because they do not deserve our regular courts.

Fact: Prosecuting terror suspects before military commissions makes them look like warriors rather than the criminals that they are. As Judge William Young said when sentencing Shoe Bomber Richard Reid, “You’re no warrior….You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.” 

More later I am sure.

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