Gitmo Review Task Force Issues Recommendations & Shuts Down, Friday’s Gitmo Closure Deadline Will Not Be Met

Jan 21, 2010 4:02pm

The Guantanamo Review Task Force had its final meeting on Wednesday, administration sources tell ABC News, where members decided on final determinations on what to do with the 198 remaining detainees.

The Task Force made referrals to the Justice Department on which detainees should be prosecuted, to the Pentagon on who should be prosecuted in a military commission, and to the State Department on whom should be transferred to other countries. The National Security Staff will oversee and supervise the implantation of the referrals, and consider new issues as they arise.

The Task Force has now shut down.

The NSS will also consider what to do with individuals categorized as too dangerous to release – those whom the president described in May 2009 as "people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, in some cases, because evidence may be tainted, but who, nonetheless, pose a threat to the security of the United States."

The administration did not provide numerical breakdowns as to how many detainees were referred to each department.

Tomorrow will mark the deadline of President Obama’s pledge to close the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, a deadline that will not be met.

One year ago tomorrow, with much fanfare, President Obama signed an executive order stating: “The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order. If any individuals covered by this order remain in detention at Guantánamo at the time of closure of those detention facilities, they shall be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”

Asked when that order will actually be accomplished, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said today, “I don't know when the process will be done. I know they've made great progress on…establishing, first and foremost, case files and recognitions of who indeed was still there and why….There's been progress on issues of siting a new detention facility.”

Gibbs said that the president “won't meet the deadline he laid out a year ago, but the president, his national security team, our generals in Iraq and Afghanistan understand the support for Al Qaida that Guantanamo provides them, in recruiting, in attracting those that seek to do us harm. To keep the American people safe, the president pledged to close Guantanamo Bay, and he'll do that.”

When the president took office, 242 detainees remained at the center. Since then:

• Forty two detainees have been repatriated to the United Kingdom, France, Bermuda, Iraq, Chad, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Portugal, Ireland, Yemen, Kuwait, Belgium, Palau, Italy, and Hungary. Earlier this month, fter the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight, President Obama suspended transfers back to Yemen for the foreseeable future. 

• Ahmed Ghailani, is being prosecuted for his role in the 1998 East Africa Embassy bombings and has been transferred to the Southern District of New York for prosecution.

• Of the 198 detainees remaining at Guantanamo, the Justice Department has announced that it intends to prosecute five, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in the Southern District of New York for crimes related to their roles in the 9/11 attack. 

• The Justice and Defense Departments will prosecute five other detainees, including the accused bomber of the USS Cole, in revamped military commissions.

Last month, the Obama administration announced its chosen new locale for the remaining detainees: a maximum security prison in Thomson, Illinois that would be converted into a Supermax – one the administrations says will be even more secure than the Supermax facility in Florence, Colo., which holds some of the nation’s most infamous terrorists (and from which no prisoner has ever escaped).  The State of Illinois recently approved the sale of the Thomson Correctional Center to the Bureau of Prisons.

Starting in 2006, President George W. Bush said at least times that he wanted to close Guantanamo. Others supporting that decision include General Colin Powell (ret.)Defense Secretary Robert Gates,  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen,   CentCom Commander General David Petraeus, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said in 2007 that as president he “would close Guantanamo Bay. And I would move those prisoners to Fort Leavenworth.”

-jpt

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