Inside Gitmo’s final report 

The Weekly Standard obtained a copy of President Barack Obama’s Guantanamo Review Task Force final report, which outlined the administration’s plan for the remaining detainees held at Guantanamo. The Task Force was set up as part of the president’s effort to close Gitmo.

The task force concluded that 95 percent of the detainees held at Guantanamo, as of January 2009, had at least some noteworthy connection to the terrorist network.

The task force also concluded that the 240 detainees subject to its review, and held at Guantanamo on President Barack Obama’s first day in office, should be treated as follows:

One hundred and twenty-six of the detainees were approved for transfer to either their home nations or third countries. Fifty-nine of the 126 detainees had previously been approved for transfer by the Bush administration. As of the date the report was finalized, Jan. 22, 44 of the 126 detainees had already been transferred. Several more detainees have been transferred since then.

Thirty-six detainees were referred for active prosecutions, either by a federal court or military commission. Initially, the Task Force recommended 44 detainees be prosecuted, but eight were taken off the prosecution list for various reasons. One of those eight was granted his habeas corpus petition by a District Court Judge.

Forty-eight detainees will be held indefinitely under Obama’s plan. These detainees “were determined to be too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution.”

Thirty detainees from Yemen are being held in “conditional” detention “based on the current security environment” of their home country. The Task Force highlighted the difficulties in transferring detainees to Yemen, especially in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day 2009. That attack was planned by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which is headquartered in Yemen and has many former Guantanamo detainees in its ranks. After the attack, President Obama authorized a moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen. 

The task force’s report contradicts some popular misconceptions. For example, press accounts frequently note that detainees have been “cleared for release.” The implication is that the detainees are either innocent or no longer a threat. The report makes it clear that neither interpretation is correct.

The task force distinguishes between detainee “releases” and “transfers.” Release “is used to mean release from confinement without the need for continuing security measures in the receiving country.” Transfer “is used to mean release from confinement subject to appropriate security measures.” The distinction is an important one.

The task force explained why such security measures are necessary for transferred detainees. “It is important to emphasize that a decision to approve a detainee for transfer does not reflect a decision that the detainee poses no threat or no risk of recidivism,” the task force explained. Moreover, “It is also important to emphasize that a decision to approve a detainee for transfer does not equate to a judgment that the government lacked legal authority to hold the detainee.”

The task force also found that the overwhelming majority of the detainees played some role in the terror network. This directly contradicts widespread assertions that many of the detainees are innocent goat herders.

This article is excerpted from The Weekly Standard.

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Thomas Joscelyn

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