Public gets glimpse of Gitmo review board

Three years after process was first ordered to clear the prison camp, some journalists get veiled peek

Published January 29, 2014 4:11PM (EST)

Reporting for the Guardian, Spencer Ackerman Tuesday described his veiled glimpse into the long-awaited Guantánamo Bay inmate review board process -- a parole review-like system first ordered by President Obama in 2011 to move prisoners out of the camp.

A group of journalists and human rights groups' representatives were given access via video link to parts of a review process for one inmate, Abdel Malik Ahmed Abdel Wahab al-Rahabi, a Yemeni who has been held without charge at Guantánamo Bay for 12 years.

As Ackerman describes it:

Rahabi, a slim 34-year-old in a white shirt whom the Defense Department believes was “almost certainly” a member of al-Qaida, bobbed in his swivel chair, occasionally scratching his nose as his representatives read statements arguing for his release. He was not invited to speak, unlike during the panel’s Bush-era antecedent.

Then, at about 9.40am ET, the feed stopped, as the participants adjourned to begin a classified hearing – away from cameras, far from public view and expected to last for hours.

Tuesday’s session, streamed on to a flatscreen TV in a Defense Department-operated office building outside Washington, provided the first public peek into a process the Obama administration ordered begun in 2011 to help clear out the detention facility’s remaining population.

... While the easiest available analogy for the Periodic Review Board is to a parole hearing, there are significant differences. Rahabi has never been charged with any crime, let alone convicted. But his representatives did – as they would at a parole hearing – make his behavior during his time at Guantánamo, such as acting as a go-between for camp authorities and detainees engaging in hunger strikes, part of their argument for ending his detention.

By 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

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