Three for Three (Almost): The PRB Train Keeps Trucking

By G. Weber

On Wednesday the Periodic Review Board (PRB), a multi-agency review established by President Obama to determine whether Gitmo prisoners pose a threat to the United States or should be released, convened to assess the case of Khalid Ahmed Qasim.

Mr. Qasim’s legal counsel stressed during opening statements that the PRB process is essential to closing the detention facility. Few hearings were completed in 2013 and 2014, putting the pace of completion off until 2018. But 2015 seems to be injecting new life into the PRB. Three PRB hearings have been held in the past three weeks.

Qasim, a Yemeni, is the 12th prisoner evaluated under the PRB process. He has been held at Guantanamo since 2002.

As usual, the video broadcast from Guantanamo was grainy, making it hard to clearly see the expressions of Mr. Qasim and his representatives. But I could still see Qasim nod in affirmation of the assertionsof his counsel and personal representatives and smirk in disagreement at statements by the government.

Qasim did not need a translator for the proceedings because his studies in English while in detention have progressed well. His counsel described Qasim as a “bookworm” because of his dedicated studies in English and Spanish. He also noted that Qasim’s disciplinary infractions do not reflect his danger to the United States—but rather his disgust at being detained indefinitely.

The classified segment of the hearing was set to commence 15 minutes after the end of the public proceedings that I witnessed. As I mentioned in my post last week, the review hearings are a key part of Obama’s plan to close the prison before the end of his term. The increase in PRB frequency indicates that the administration is stepping up their efforts. However, only time will tell whether this pace continues. As of this writing, the next PRB session has not been scheduled.

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Published on February 6, 2015

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