Gitmo “indefinite detainees” revealed

Following FOIA requests, U.S. identifies 46 men deemed, contra international law, too dangerous for trial, transfer

Topics: gitmo, Indefinite Detention, Indefinite Detainees, Guantanamo Bay, Hunger Strike, war crimes, ,

Gitmo "indefinite detainees" revealedDetainees sit in a holding area at Camp X-Ray, inside Guantanamo Bay. (Credit: Reuters/Shane T. McCoy)

Following FOIA requests from the Miami Herald and the New York Times, the government has released a list of the 46 Guantánamo detainees deemed to0 dangerous for release, transfer or trial. Of the 166 already held in juridical limbo — after all, 80 who have been cleared for release remain imprisoned — these 46 inhabit an extreme legal state of exception, highlighting the very limits of our legal processes themselves.

According to the Miami Herald, a number of the men on the list are among the over 40 hunger strikers at the camp being force-fed, “for example, Kuwaitis Fawzi al Odah, 36, and Fayez al Kandari, 35, and Yemeni Abdal Malik al Wahab, about 43, who in March, according to his lawyer David Remes, vowed to fast until he got out of the prison ‘either dead or alive’,” noted the Herald.

Human rights advocates decried the “indefinite detainee” category, which “Under international human rights law all of the detainees should either be charged and fairly tried in federal court, or released,” said Zeke Johnson of Amnesty International — highlighting again how Gitmo sits outside the conventions of international law.

Via the Herald:

The names had been a closely held secret since a multi-agency task force sifted through the files of the Guantánamo detainees in 2009 trying to achieve President Barack Obama’s executive order to close the detention center. In January 2010, the task force revealed that it classified 48 Guantánamo captives as dangerous but ineligible for trial because of a lack of evidence, or because the evidence was too tainted.

They became so-called “indefinite detainees,” a form of war prisoner held under Congress’ 2001 “Authorization for Use of Military Force.”

The Defense Department released the list to The Miami Herald, which, with the assistance of Yale Law School students, had sued for it in federal court in Washington, D.C. The Pentagon also sent the list to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on Monday, a Defense Department official said.

According to the list, the men designated for indefinite detention are 26 Yemenis, 12 Afghans, 3 Saudis, 2 Kuwaitis, 2 Libyans, a Kenyan, a Moroccan and a Somali.

It was announced earlier this month that even fewer detainees than the Obama administration had originally expected have been deemed suitable to face a war crimes tribunal at the military base. Only around 20 Gitmo detainees have viable charges levied against them to face the war crimes tribunal, including seven whose trials are finished and the six facing pretrial hearings this week.

Natasha Lennard
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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