Two Years After Executive Order, Guantanamo Periodic Review Board Proceedings Yet to Begin
Washington, D.C. – This Thursday, March 7, marks the two-year anniversary of the President’s Executive Order governing periodic reviews of Guantanamo detainees. To mark the anniversary, Retired Rear Admiral Don Guter issued the following statement:
“The administration promised additional due process for Guantanamo detainees, but these reviews are way behind schedule. They should have started a year ago according to the president’s own executive order. By missing even self-imposed deadlines, the administration is reinforcing the notion that it has lost control over Guantanamo policy. It’s time now for the president to task a senior-level White House official with managing the policymaking process on Guantanamo issues. This official should ensure that the periodic reviews of Guantanamo detainees commence immediately, and with robust procedural safeguards. The official should also ensure that the administration uses its waiver authority to transfer those detainees that have been cleared for transfer by the Guantanamo detainee review task force.”
On March 7, 2011, President Obama signed an executive order establishing additional review procedures for Guantanamo detainees to determine if continued detention is warranted. The review procedures, consisting of an initial hearing with an interagency Periodic Review Board (PRB), were to have begun one year ago, as mandated by the executive order. However, the Obama Administration has not announced when the PRB hearings will begin or what procedures will govern the hearings.
All the while, the administration retains substantial authority to transfer 86 Guantanamo detainees who have been unanimously cleared for transfer by the interagency Guantanamo detainee review taskforce that included all the relevant security and intelligence agencies. As 15 retired generals and admirals have emphasized, congressionally-established waiver authority now allows the administration to certify many transfers that were previously prohibited by Congress.
For additional details on a practical path towards closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, see Human Rights First’s recent blueprint on How to Close Guantanamo.