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GTMO Update on the final 61 detainees–PRB initial review hearings (finally) completed

Today marked the final of the “initial” Periodic Review Board hearings for detainees at Guantánamo who are not either already cleared for transfer or charged in the military commissions system.  (The President ordered the Department of Defense to complete these initial hearings by March 2012; better late than never.)

Sixty-one (61) detainees remain at GTMO.  Carol Rosenberg reports that DoD has consolidated 46 of those detainees into a single camp facility — Camp 6.  (The other 15 detainees, formerly held by the CIA, are in Camp 7.)  Rosenberg further reports that because of the sharp decrease in the detainee population, DoD is cutting the GTMO staff from about 2000 to approximately 1600.

After the completion of the (final) initial PRB hearing for Hassan Muhammad Ali Bin Attash today, here’s where things stand with respect to the final 61 detainees at GTMO (as reflected in Carol Rosenberg’s chart):

— Three (3) detainees have been convicted, or pled guilty, in military commission proceedings:  Ali Hamza al Bahlul is serving a life sentence, but his lone remaining conviction is presently on appeal to the en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  Ahmed Haza al Darbi is serving a 15-year sentence that began in 2014.  And Majid Khan pled guilty but his sentencing hearing is postponed until at least Leap Day 2019.

— Seven (7) more detainees await three trials before military commissions:  (i) Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, (ii) Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, and (iii) the five defendants charged with involvement in the 9/11 attacks:  Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al Shibh, Ammar al Baluchi, and Ammar al Baluchi.

— Twenty (20) detainees have been cleared for transfer.

— As to nineteen (19) of the detainees, the PRB has determined that their continued law-of-war detention is warranted because it is (in the words of the President’s order) “necessary to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States.”  Of these, two have had a subsequent “file” review but no PRB determination as of yet, and five others are awaiting file reviews scheduled for between now and October 18th.  Another of these 19 detainees, Moath Hamza Ahmed Al-Alwi, has a “full,” second PRB review hearing scheduled for October 18th.

— The final twelve (12) detainees are now awaiting the results of their initial PRB hearings.  The PRB’s unclassified summaries of the factors and information it will consider reflect the Board’s (pre-hearing) conclusions that most of these twelve detainees remain committed to fighting on behalf of al Qaeda if they are released.  Of course, further evidence, and what occurred at the hearings, might alter these assessments.  It is probably safe to predict, however, that the PRB will determine that continued detention of most of these twelve detainees is warranted in order to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States.  (Based purely on the unclassified summaries alone, the detainee among these twelve most likely to be cleared for transfer is probably Haji Wali Mohammad.)

All of which is to say that when the initial PRB reviews are completed in the near future (along with the follow-up review for Al-Alwi), there will remain between 19 and 31 detainees not either charged or cleared for transfer.  If, as expected, the government is able to transfer all the detainees who have been cleared, it will mean that approximately 30 uncharged detainees, perhaps a bit fewer than that, will remain at GTMO at the end of President Obama’s term.

On what happens then, see my earlier post, which includes links to my three-part post on why and how Congress has unwisely prevented the closing of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.


About the Author

is a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. You can follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/marty_lederman?lang=en)