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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

At Guantanamo, 166 Prisoners Remain

A U.S. trooper stands in the turret of a vehicle with a machine gun, left, as a guard looks out from a tower, in this 2010 photo of Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba. (AP/Brennan Linsley)

A Guantanamo detainee runs in an exercise area at the detention facility on Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba in April 2010. (AP/Michelle Shephard)

Next week, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged accomplices will have pre-trial hearings at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base. Mohammed is the self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11th terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

There are 166 detainees still being held on Guantanamo Bay, after two men left the detention center late last month. One was Omar Khadr, who was 15 when he killed an American serviceman in Afghanistan in 2002. He was sent to Gitmo soon after, becoming the youngest detainee there. Khadr, a Canadian citizen, pleaded guilty to war crimes in 2010 and last month was released to a Canadian prison. He could soon be eligible for parole.

Also gone from Guantanamo is Adnan Latif, by most accounts a mentally unstable young Yemeni and one of the first prisoners at the detention facility. It’s thought he committed suicide last month.

A Guantanamo detainee carries a workbook as he is escorted by guards after the detainee attended a class in “Life Skills” at Guantanamo Bay detention facility in March 2010. (AP/Brennan Linsley)

“That’s the way people get out of Guantanamo these days, occasionally someone gets released after pleading guilty, but generally the way to leave is if you’ve died,” Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg told Here & Now‘s Robin Young. Rosenberg has been covering the detention center since it opened ten years ago.

Latif was found dead in his cell under circumstances the military still hasn’t clarified.

“At this point, we don’t know what happened to him. We know that an autopsy was conducted. We haven’t been privy to the results yet,” said Marc Falkoff, one of Latif’s pro bono lawyers.

Falkoff says while Latif may have committed suicide, he could also have been suffering from bad health due to repeated hunger strikes over the years.

Guantanamo has been off the radar for many Americans lately, and the issue has been all but absent from the presidential campaigns. That’s in spite of the fact President Obama signed an order in 2009 to close the detention facility within that year.

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  • lifobryan

    What to do with the prisoners after Gitmo closes? 

    I think Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, and Paul Wolfowitz should be legally obligated to house the detainees in their own homes. 

  • Monica Pollard

    Why does no one mention the successful 2006  CIVILIAN trial of Z. Moussaoui in a federal court in VA?  He was found guilty and is currently detained at a Supermax prison in CO.  The trial was evidently a difficult process (see: http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forumy/2006/05/what-moussaoui-verdict-teaches-us.php), but it worked.

    The phrasing of the ending question – do listeners want these prisoners kept in their town jail – was sensationalism, and irresponsible.  Why did the interviewer not challenge what was being said with some facts?

    We DO have a good trial process, and we DO have appropriate Federal facilities for these prisoners.  In fact some are already being kept there – but you don’t hear about that in the media.  Conservatives in Congress who are blocking the President’s attempts to close Guantanamo are pandering to their base.   Insinuating that we will see terrorists housed in our county lock-ups is fear-mongering.

    • SocialWorkItOut

      Very interesting point, Monica. I hadn’t heard of this successful civilian trial. Thanks for sharing.

    • Myda

      Maybe because there are only a few? Most of the cases always get rejected, so many lawyers trying to fight for their clients to have a fair trial which most do not even receive quick enough, maybe after a few years if they’re lucky. You are right in saying you cant ignore this trial, but you can’t ignore those many trials that occur in the military or whatever they call that place, and they function by not showing the evidence because its ‘classified’, not allowing the lawyer etc to be present except for a representative who does only so much, and witnesses called are hardly much, so the detainee is found guilty, without even having done a proper trial. 

  • Greg Spooner

    It’s difficult to come to any other conclusion that we are cowards.  We’re brave enough to let our military lock away citizens of other lands on some remote island.  But when it comes to trusting our own judicial system to do the right thing, Americans have loudly let it be known that we’re too afraid to do the right thing.  I personally would accept Guantanamo detainees into my city jail right here in San Francisco.

  • SocialWorkItOut

    FASCINATING! Thank you so much for this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anders.bjorkman1 Anders Björkman

    This Khalid Sheik Mohammed cannot be guilty as the method of flying planes into weak tops of skyscrapers doesn’t work – http://heiwaco.tripod.com/tower.htm

  • Navycop

    What many here have missed is they have repeatedly had success here in the US prosecuting terrorism suspects and have even had one brought from Guantanamo in 2009 and stood trial and sentenced to life in a federal prison. Having worked at Guantanamo all I can say is close the JTF detention facility and bring the prosecutable to the mainland to stand trail and send the others to their home countries where if they return to the fight a well placed drone strike has taken many out of the fight. While I’m not an Obama fan its not only his fault but also congress in blocking the funding to make this closure happen. This place is a huge waste of funding as well as a major source of mental health issues for not only the detainees but also our military that are not well trained to deal with the pandering the senior officials do for the detainees at the cost of our military personnel ass signed there.

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