FOIA suit reveals Guantánamo’s ‘indefinite detainees’
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — The Obama administration Monday lifted a veil of secrecy surrounding the status of the detainees at Guantánamo, for the first time publicly naming the four dozen captives it defined as indefinite detainees — men too dangerous to transfer but who cannot be tried in a court of law.
The names had been a closely held secret since a multi-agency task force sifted through the files of the Guantánamo detainees in 2009 trying to achieve President Barack Obama’s executive order to close the detention center. In January 2010, the task force revealed that it classified 48 Guantánamo captives as dangerous but ineligible for trial because of a lack of evidence, or because the evidence was too tainted.
They became so-called “indefinite detainees,” a form of war prisoner held under Congress’ 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force.”
The Defense Department released the list to The Miami Herald, which, with the assistance of Yale Law School students, had sued for it in federal court in Washington, D.C. The Pentagon also sent the list to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on Monday, a Defense Department official said.
According to the list, the men designated for indefinite detention are 26 Yemenis, 12 Afghans, 3 Saudis, 2 Kuwaitis, 2 Libyans, a Kenyan, a Moroccan and a Somali.
Human rights groups denounced the existence of such a list.
Amnesty International’s Zeke Johnson called “fundamentally flawed” the notion of classifying captives as indefinite detainees. “Under international human rights law,” he said, “all of the detainees should either be charged and fairly tried in federal court, or released.”
Human Rights First’s Dixon Osburn hailed release of the list through the Freedom of Information Act: “It is fundamental to democracy that the public know the identities of the people our nation is depriving of liberty and why they are being detained.”
Some of the men on the list are among the prisoners currently on hunger strike and being force-fed at the prison, for example, Kuwaitis Fawzi al Odah, 36, and Fayez al Kandari, 35, and Yemeni Abdal Malik al Wahab, about 43, who in March, according to his lawyer David Remes, vowed to fast until he got out of the prison “either dead or alive.”
I honestly think this should be a bigger scandal than NSA Prism. The US government has decided that it can hold people indefinitely without trial. It might not want too, but it is. It’s also incredibly hypocritical for US government to criticize country, while they themselves are holding people without trial.