Guantanamo has 61 prisoners left after 15 released

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Sunrise over Guantanamo Bay detention camps on Sunday, 14 August 2016.  Fifteen detainees gained their freedom this weekend. Photo by George Edwards.

Today the Pentagon announced that 15 detainees were transferred for resettlement from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the United Arab Emirates.

Six of the detainees were released after a “comprehensive review” pursuant to President Obama’s 22 January 2009 executive order, by the Guantanamo Review Task Force. This task force, comprising six departments and agencies, unanimously approved release of the following 6 detainees:  al-Busi, Sulayman, Kazaz, al-Muhajari, al-Adahi, and al-Mudafari.

The other nine detainees were released following Periodic Review Boards (PRBs), authorized by President Obama’s 2011 executive order, that calls representatives of 6 departments or agencies to assess if continued detention “remain[s] necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States”. These 9 detainees are:  al-Mujahid, Jarabh, Kamin, bin Hamdoun, al-Razak (aka Haji Hamidullah), Ahmed, Salih, Obaidullah, and al-Marwalah does not remain necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States. As a result of those reviews, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, al-Mujahid, Jarabh, Kamin, bin Hamdoun, al-Razak (aka Haji Hamidullah), Ahmed, Salih, Obaidullah, and al-Marwalah were recommended for transfer by consensus of the six departments and agencies comprising the Periodic Review Board.

PRBs consist of representatives from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, and State; the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

My visit to Guantanamo Bay this weekend

I was at Guantanamo Bay yesterday, Sunday the 14th, and was briefed by the Chief of the Joint Detention Group, Rear Admiral Clarke. The topic of reduction in number of detainees was discussed. However, he did not mention that the number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay was that weekend decreasing by 20%, from 76 detainees on Friday to only 61 detainees by Monday.

He and others we met with on Saturday and Sunday did discuss the justification for having almost 2000 Joint Detention Force personal for fewer than 100 detains, and that is because staffing is linked in part to structures and facilities, and not linked specifically to individual detainees or the number of individual detainees.

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